Discover one of BirdLife's most inspiring programmes. From climate change to seabird bycatch, we're finding solutions to save these charismatic ocean wanderers
A major review in BirdLife's journal Bird Conservation International confirmed that seabirds are amongst the world’s most threatened group of birds. The albatross family is especially imperilled, with 15 of 22 species threatened with extinction.
Declines are often closely linked to the expansion of commercial fisheries in seabird feeding areas (which has degraded fish stocks and caused seabird deaths through accidental capture in nets and other fishing gear), combined with the impacts of invasive alien species such as rats and cats that prey on birds in nesting colonies.
These are the most common threats to seabirds. Of their 346 species, nearly a third (101) are globally threatened, 10% are Near Threatened and almost half are known or suspected to be experiencing population declines. Image: Rachel Hudson
Influencing international and regional conservation policies is vital, and BirdLife works with the world’s Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to reduce bycatch. It is also important to work on practical solutions with fishers and others to find and implement the right measures to prevent unnecessary seabird deaths.
We have formed the ground-breaking Albatross Task Force, the world's first international team of seabird bycatch mitigation instructors working at-sea on commercial fishing vessels. We recently exported this successful model for seabird conservation to Europe, where we have established our Seabird Task Force . We are also leading global research and at-sea testing of new measures to prevent bycatch, including in gillnet fisheries.
We put seabirds on the map. Working with international scientists and experts BirdLife hosts the Tracking Ocean Wanderers Database, the largest collection of seabird tracking data in existence. With 40 BirdLife Partners from all over the world, we have produced the first global atlas of important sites for seabirds and other marine biodiversity, describing over 3000 sites in coastal waters and on the high seas. As of 2014, 325 seabird species had one or more Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identified for it. We continue to press for these special places to be properly protected.