Update on bycatch risks to seabirds in the Western Pacific
Bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries is one of the greatest threats to seabirds, particularly albatrosses and petrels. In this paper we provide a brief update on some of the New Zealand breeding species most vulnerable to bycatch in the Western Pacific. The Antipodean wandering albatross is endemic to New Zealand. The Antipodes Island population was identified as a priority population for conservation management in September 2017 by the Agreement on Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. A series of pest eradications have eliminated known and potential human-induced threats at their main breeding sites, and fisheries bycatch is now the main focus of efforts to recover this population. We present new foraging distributional data that confirms the expansion in foraging areas to the north and east of New Zealand reported previously to SC. The bycatch risk to Antipodean wandering albatross and other threatened seabirds posed by fisheries in the WCPFC area underlines the urgent need to ensure adequate measures are in place to mitigate bycatch. This includes the specification and spatial extent of measures required in the Commission’s Conservation and Management Measure to mitigate the impact of fishing for highly migratory fish stocks on seabirds, as well as data collection and reporting on seabird bycatch.