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Albatross and Petrels      

Marine Conservation

albatross and petrels

HSI has expended enormous efforts over the years to protect albatross and petrels - the most endangered group of birds on the planet. The biggest threat to this highly endangered group of seabirds is incidental capture in fisheries and both long-lines and trawl nets are responsible. When the long-lines are set seabirds attracted to the baits get caught on the hooks and drown. It is estimated that a horrific 400 albatrosses die this way every week around the world. Trawl nets also pose a serious problem because the birds get caught and killed when they hit the warps trawl nets hang from.

HSI nominations have secured threatened species protection for albatross and petrels under Australian and international law and we continue to work hard to stop them dying in fisheries worldwide.

HSI Saving Albatross in Australia


Our campaign to prevent seabird deaths in Australian long-line fisheries has been one of our most successful. A HSI nomination submitted in 1995 secured the listing of Long-line Fishing as a Key Threatening Process under Australia' s national environment law.   This led to the development of the Australian Threat Abatement Plan for Long-line Fishing now entering its third iteration. As a member of the Threat Abatement Team, HSI has pushed for the toughest possible action to bring an end to albatross and petrel by-catch on long-lines in Australia. The Threat Abatement Plan now requires long-liners to only set their lines at night when there is less risk of seabird capture and to weight their lines so that they sink more quickly out of the reach of the birds. Thanks in large part to HSI tenacity on this issue, albatross and petrel deaths on Australian long-lines have been reduced tenfold over the past decade.


With the threat of long-line fishing coming under control, HSI attention has moved to trawl fishing. It emerged that Australia' s trawl fleets have been responsible for killing hundreds of albatross and petrels a year. HSI is working with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to see the problem properly addressed through measures such as the mandatory retention of fish processing waste while trawl gear is in the water. This is because the waste, or offal as it is known, acts as bait for the birds bringing them into contact with the fatal trawl warps.

HSI Saving Albatross Worldwide


Following success on this issue at home, HSI worked with Australia to spearhead a Regional Agreement for Albatross and Petrels under the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS). HSI advisers attended negotiating meetings for the Regional Agreement as members of the Australian delegation. The Agreement was finalized in 2001 and Australia was the first country to ratify it later that year. The Agreement is bringing about greater cooperation to conserve this imperiled group of birds. The Agreement requires countries to undertake measures to protect albatross and petrels and their habitats from long-line fishing, breeding site disturbance, feral animals, disease and pollution and HSI attends the meetings of the Parties to make sure that they tackle these tasks effectively.

Crucial to the Agreement's success will be cooperation from, not just the albatross and petrel range states, but also distant water long-line fishing fleets from Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Spain. If albatross and petrel extinctions are to be avoided, the international community also needs to do everything possible to combat illegal poaching for Patagonian Toothfish in the Southern Ocean which is responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of seabirds.

HSI also attends annual meetings of the Commission on the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). The CCSBT is arguably the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) with the greatest impact on threatened seabirds. Its management area overlaps with the distribution of 17 of the world's 24 albatross species, collectively the most endangered group of birds in the world, and southern bluefin tuna longline fisheries have been responsible for the death of an estimated 10,000 albatrosses every year.  HSI has therefore actively lobbied over the years to ensure that mandatory mitigation measures for seabirds and other species are introduced in the Southern Bluefin Tuna longline fisheries worldwide. With one albatross killed for every two tonnes of longline catch HSI’s work in this area remains as important as ever.

Saving Albatross in Ecuador and Peru


While much attention focuses on industrial fishing fleets, thousands of albatross and petrels are also dying on the hooks of artisanal fleets. For the past four years, HSI has funded an exciting joint project with the American Bird Conservancy led by HSI’s seabird expert Nigel Brothers. This project aims to address this bycatch of seabirds, particularly the critically endangered Waved albatross, as well as turtles, dolphins, sharks and other animals in the massive artisanal long-line fleets in Ecuador and Peru. Nigel is working to find innovative, low cost solutions to ensure that bycatch is minimised predominantly through the deployment of simple line weighting of fishing gear. Nigel’s reports from his trips can be downloaded from the latest news section below.

Latest News



20 October 2015 click here

15 April 2015 click here

southern bluefin tuna talks close with no progress on seabird bycatch

17th October 2014 click here 

southern bluefin tuna talks open with australia under fire

13th October 2014 click here 

report from nigel brothers' work on reducing seabird bycatch in artisinal fisheries in ecuador and peru 

September 2014 download pdf (1MB)

australias seabirds continue to drown on fishing lines as the world celebrates world migratory bird day

9th March, 2014 click here

Don't Forget the Albatross 

14th October 2013 click here

Report from Nigel Brothers work to prevent albatross deaths in Ecuador fisheries

August 2011 click here

Report from Nigel Brothers HSI seabird expert at the 2011 meeting of the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels

Report from Nigel Brothers work to prevent albatross deaths in Ecuador and Peruvian fishing fleets

February 2010 click here



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