Albatross (Diomedea exulans) in flight. Photographed by JJ HarrisonThe Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Assault Birds (ACAP) was signed in 2001 out of concern for the dramatic decline in many seabird populations, especially albatrosses and storm birds in the southern hemisphere. These declines are related to the by-catch of seabirds from fishing, but they are also related to the presence of predatory invasive species, such as cats and rats, in many of their nesting areas. ACAP calls on its signatories to take measures to protect and restore habitats, control populations of invasive species, study seabird populations and adopt fishing rules that minimize by-catch of seabirds. ACAP currently has 13 signatories and the United States has expressed interest in ratification. Development of the agreement began in 1999. It was quickly concluded, with only two meetings needed to agree on the text. 16 countries and five international organizations participated in these meetings in Hobart, Australia, and Cape Town, South Africa. ACAP was launched for signature in Canberra, Australia, on 19 June 2001 and entered into force on 1 February 2004, when all albatross species in the southern hemisphere and seven species of assault birds were listed under its auspices.
There are currently (January 2014) thirteen parties to the agreement – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, France, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. The secretariat of the agreement is located in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. ACAP is assisted by a small secretariat composed of an executive secretary, a scientific officer and a volunteer information delegate. The following 31 species of albatrosses, assault birds and assault divers are included in the agreement. ACAP`s work focuses on verifying the population status and trends of all species listed as ACAP through the maintenance of a global database and the establishment of a series of species assessments. These assessments provide up-to-date information on the spread of each species, threats to individual populations, conservation measures taken to protect them, and identification of knowledge gaps about the species. ACAP has also developed nature protection guidelines for biosecurity and quarantine for breeding sites; guidelines for the conservation of the eradication of imported island mammals; Good practice tips to stem the by-catch of seabirds on fishing farms and an action plan for the P.irrorata wavy albums of the Galapagos of Ecuador. ACAP`s other activities include funding research projects, supporting capacity building initiatives and raising public awareness of the plight of albatrosses and assault birds, including through daily posts on ACAP Latest News on the agreement`s website (www.acap.aq) and on its Facebook page. These include a series of illustrated ACAP reports on breeding sites, brief reports on fieldwork, management activities, conferences and other meetings, summaries of scientific and popular publications, and book interviews. Twenty-one of the listed species have a threatened global status from the IUCN, which ranges from a critical threat (three species), threatened (eight species) to threatened (10 species).
Seven species are considered near threatened and only three of the 31 species on the ACAP list (thalassarche thalassarche melanophris and the two giant storm birds Macronectes spp.) are currently of least concern. A key area of ACAP`s work is verifying the population status and trends of the 31 species listed ACAP by maintaining a global database and creating a series of species assessments….