Seabirds and Marine - Asia - Wiki


Seabird Conservation and Global Seabird Programme

Seabirds, particularly albatrosses, are becoming increasingly threatened at a rate faster than any other species-groups of birds, with one third of all seabird species classified as being threatened with extinction. The biggest threat to seabirds at sea is bycatch in commercial longline fisheries as foraging seabirds are caught on baited hooks or by trawl cables and drowned, killing over 300,000 seabirds every year, including 100,000 albatrosses. However, many declines are also linked with various other causes such as invasive alien species at nesting colonies, hunting (egg collecting) and habitat degradation.

The world’s oceans are open and dynamic systems that pose few physical barriers to the dispersal and migration of many seabirds. Therefore international collaboration is required to achieve effective conservation of seabirds, which led BirdLife International to establish a Global Seabird Conservation Programme in 1997. The objectives of the programme are:

  • To address seabird conservation issues at a global level, as appropriate, and engage relevant stakeholders regionally and internationally
  • To facilitate existing, and promote new, initiatives to reduce the incidental mortality of seabirds by fisheries, particularly in respect of longlining.
  • To establish and support a network of BirdLife partners and others to influence global and regional policies affecting seabirds.


From IBAs to marine IBAs

The Important Bird Areas (IBAs) Programme of BirdLife International started in the 1980s, using a set of standardised, globally agreed criteria to identify and conserve sites that are critical for the long-term viability of bird populations. The Global Seabird Programme is taking the lead on identifying marine IBAs – IBAs at the ocean which form a network of marine sites critical for the future survival of many seabirds.

Seabirds are an indicator as to the state of the marine environment, and can help to identify key sites for marine biodiversity conservation. Marine IBAs can therefore provide essential baseline information for marine spatial planning such as the designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (EBSAs). Furthermore locations of marine IBAs can help identify areas where renewable energy, fisheries and oil spills are likely to have the greatest impacts on biodiversity.


Marine IBAs in the world

Currently, 3,000 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) worldwide have been identified specifically as marine IBAs or candidate marine IBAs. The information was compiled in e-Atlas and launched at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in Hyderabad, in 2012 as the BirdLife’s first global map of marine IBAs.

The e-Atlas provides essential information for conservation practitioners and policy makers; for energy sector planners (wind farms, gas and oil exploration and drilling); for fisheries managers; for marine pollution management planners; and for the insurance industry.


Marine IBA identification in Asia

BirdLife International Asia Division, with support from Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF), convened the first regional marine IBA workshop for Asia in April 2010. This resulted in the established of a regional seabird conservation plan for the first time. Following the regional workshop, national workshops were held by BirdLife Partners in Japan, India and Russia, in which a marine IBA identification was launched.

An initial list of candidate marine IBAs within the existing IBA dataset has already been compiled for all relevant countries in Asia, and this summarises those IBAs considered marine because of the seabird breeding colonies they contain. These sites are currently reviewed by Partners to verify as marine IBAs.


Seabird conservation in policy

Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) are the organisations through which countries collaborate to manage fish stocks on the high seas, as well as those that straddle the coastal waters of more than one country. The Asian dominant fleets interacting with seabirds (particularly albatrosses) are the distant water pelagic longline fleets, overseen by the five tuna RFMOs (ICCAT, IOTC, WCPFC, IATTC, CCSBT), and the high seas trawl and demersal longline fleets managed by the new South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) and South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO).

Since 2004, the Global Seabird Programme has been working with RFMOs to establish and strengthen requirements for global pelagic longline vessels to use seabird bycatch mitigation measures in areas overlapping with albatrosses. For the last three years, the Global Seabird Programme has also been collaborating closely with Japan, Taiwan and Korea, key Asian distant water fleets to reduce seabird bycatch. Now all of these tuna RFMOs have seabird bycatch mitigation requirements and have established requirements to collect and review data on bycatch in their fisheries to collect and review data on bycatch in their fisheries. The key need for the next step is to ensure that the new seabird bycatch mitigation requirements are translated into implementation at the vessel level on the high seas.


The Tracking Ocean Wanderers database

The Tracking Ocean Wanderers database is the largest collection of seabird tracking data in existence and has been very important in our work with these RFMOs and countries. It has enabled the overlap between seabird populations and fisheries to be mapped, making it possible to target our conservation efforts more effectively.


Further information

BirdLife International’s Global Seabird Programme

Marine e-atlas

The Marine IBA Toolkit: a step by step analysis of the identification process

Download here

Global Procellariform Tracking Database