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Black-footed Albatross at-sea distribution and longline fishery overlap during chick rearing from the westernmost Hawai‘i colony

Released: 2016
Hester, M, D Hyrenbach, RW Henry, C Vanderlip, J Adams. 2016. Black-footed Albatross at-sea distribution and longline fishery overlap during chick rearing from the westernmost Hawai‘i colony. 6th International Albatross and Petrel Conference (IPAC6), Barcelona, Spain. 19-23 September 2016. [presentation]

We tracked the foraging distribution and overlap with longline fishing effort of breeding Black-footed Albatross (BFAL, Phoebastria nigripes) tagged on the Kure Atoll colony in 2012 and 2013 (18 birds, 197 trips). This study contributes knowledge about the behavior and risks of BFAL from different colonies that forage in areas of high longline activity. We attached GPS tags to known age and sex BFAL parents (age range 9 – 13 years) immediately following the guard stage (late February - May). We did not need to recapture the adults as the tags downloaded data to receivers in the colony. To document a tag effect metric, we monitored chick survival among nests with tagged and untagged (control) parents. Breeding birds from Kure ranged within a vast area of the North Pacific, with high-use foraging areas to the west to Japan and northwest to the Emperor Seamounts. The distance traveled, duration and range were significantly greater in 2013 than 2012 with no sex differences. The range and mean of latitude and longitude during a given trip were significantly influenced by year and marginally by sex, indicating that BFAL expanded their range in 2013 and that, on average, males ranged farther north than females.  A high proportion of trips (27.9 %) were shorter than a day and the longest trip lasted 26.2 days. The tracked BFAL foraged in E.E.Z. waters of Japan, Canada, and U.S. (including two Marine National Monuments) but spent over half of their time in international high-seas, beyond national jurisdictions. To evaluate threats in pelagic regions of high-use by BFAL, we summarized the overlap with pelagic longline fishing effort (hooks) in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries management jurisdiction (provisioning months Feb-June, years 2003-2012). These results highlight the importance of habitats and threats in the western and central Pacific for BFAL breeding in Hawai‘i and the shared responsibilities for their conservation.

This product is associated with the following project:
Seabird Vulnerability Assessment for Renewable Energy Projects

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