World Albatross Day 2021
Image credit: © Derren Fox
19th June is World Albatross Day!
The first ever World Albatross Day was 19th June 2020. It was started as a day dedicated to celebrating albatrosses – the world's most exceptional group of birds. It is also a day to raise awareness of the threats that continue to drive them towards extinction, and say thanks to those that dedicate their lives to saving them.
This year falls on the 20th anniversary of the ratification of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). It was the first international commitment to conserve these vulnerable birds through transboundary cooperation, coordination, and mitigation of threats. Sadly, in May 2019 the ACAP declared a continuing crisis, as thousands of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters are still dying each year from fishing activities.
There is still so much work to be done, that is why the theme for World Albatross Day 2021 is “Ensuring Albatross-friendly Fisheries”,.
ACAP have selected the Tristan Albatross that lives on Gough Island in the UK Overseas Territory and the Waved Albatross from Islas Española and Isla de la Plata in Ecuador to highlight the devastation inflicted by the battle of the high seas between fishing boats and the albatross.
To celebrate World Albatross Day, the Albatross Task Force has been running the first #AlbatrossWorldCup! During almost two weeks, people around the globe have been invited to vote for their favourite albatross species - all 22 have been competing to win the crown -, as there can only be one bird to rule them all! Check the @AlbyTaskForce Twitter and Instagram @albatross_stories to know the resutls!
The BirdLife International Marine Programme and its partners have been championing seabird friendly fisheries for two decades. Since 2004, BirdLife International and it’s UK partner, the RSPB have been working with fishers, governments, and fishing communities all over the world to save seabirds at sea.
Back in 2008, we made this video to highlight the plight of albatrosses in longline fisheries.
Since then, we have seen inspiring success stories stemming from the work of the Albatross Task Force. In 2014 we celebrated a 90% reduction in seabird bycatch in the demersal hake fishery! Earlier this year we celebrated an incredible project outcome: In a single Namibian fishery 22,000 seabirds are now being saved every year thanks to the collaborative work of the Albatross Task Force and the fishing industry.
Although there are these moments of hope, big challenges and setbacks remain. Recently, the Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross was reported being killed on High Seas tuna vessels, reiterating the need for us to continue our important work saving seabirds.
What we do
The Marine Programme’s Science Team use the Seabird Tracking Database to bring data from scientists all around the work to investigate where and when albatrosses and other seabirds are interacting with fishing activities, providing the information we need to help them.
A recent example shows how our tracking work found where Wandering Albatrosses go and where they meet fishing boats. Working with the British Antarctic Survey we are using radar detecting loggers to track bycatch risk to these magnificent birds.
In 2021 a Marine Programme PhD student concluded a study that showed how much time albatrosses were spending in different countries jurisdictions, providing evidence that can compel those countries to act on seabird bycatch issues.
BirdLife’s tracking data and science is used to inform policy at a global policy level, and most importantly at the tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). These multilateral organisations were established to manage High Seas fisheries and are responsible for ensuring albatross friendly fisheries, we are there to make sure they do.
Bycatch is not the only threat to albatrosses and the RSPB and Gough Island Restoration are working hard to save seabirds from being killed by invasive mice. Any donations much appreciated: https://www.rspb.org.uk/join-and-donate/donate/appeals/gough-island/
Find out how and why we celebrated last years very first World Albatross Day - https://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/why-were-celebrating-first-ever-world-albatross-day
Recap of World Albatross Day 2020
RSPB albatross story map