The albatross is the world’s most imperilled group of birds. These birds are under extreme threat due to long line fishing and trawl nets, where they are caught and killed on their hooks and nets – a phenomenon fishers refer to as ‘bycatch’.

Out of 31 species of albatross and petrels, 21 are believed to be at risk of extinction.

Four species are Critically Endangered, five are Endangered, 12 are Vulnerable, and eight are Near Threatened.

HSI attends meetings of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) and the annual Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), advocating for line weighting to be implemented by fisheries to ensure baited lines quickly sink out of the reach of birds and dramatically reduce the amount of seabird bycatch. We continue to advocate for the need for mandatory mitigation measures in tuna fisheries to protect seabirds.

Our work to protect the albatross in Australia dates back more than 20 years, with the Wandering albatross one of the first species we successfully nominated for listing as threatened under Commonwealth, state or territory laws in Australia. Since then all 20 species of albatross found in Australia have been listed as threatened under Australian law.

A HSI nomination submitted in 1995 secured the listing of Long-line Fishing as a Key Threatening Process under Australia's national environment law. This led to the development of the Australian Threat Abatement Plan for Long-line Fishing and has significantly reduced the number of albatross killed on longlines in Australian waters. HSI remains a key member of this team and continues to monitor progress to ensure the bycatch of seabirds in Australian longline fisheries continues to reduce to our aim of zero.

Images: Catherine Bone (Header); Tait