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New Zealand albatross and petrel research and monitoring priorities
National Museum of New Zealand- Te Papa Tongarewa,
11 August 2012
Kerry-Jayne Wilson1 & John Croxall2
1 P.O. Box 70, Charleston 7865, West Coast, New Zealand. 2 Birdlife International, Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge CB3 0NA, UK
Introduction and background
Participants (Annex 1)
Recommendations and conclusions
1. Taxonomic matters
2. ACAP species breeding in New Zealand
2.1 Land-based issues; population status, trends, monitoring, demography.
2.2 Distribution at sea (Tracking)
2.3 At-sea issues (Bycatch)
3. Non-ACAP species
3.1Conservation Services Programme
3.2 Recreational fishing impacts
3.3 Regional surveys
3.4 Burrow breeding petrel surveys
3.5 Eradication of mammals from islands
3.6 Translocation of petrels
3.7 Fisheries and non-ACAP species
3.8 Climate and sea temperature change
4. Outreach, engagement and capacity building
4.1 Albatross and petrel symposium
4.2 Community groups
5. Other issues
Annex 1 List of participants
Annex 2 List of species under consideration
Annex 3 Pre-workshop discussion powerpoint document
Introduction and background
New Zealand is the country with the greatest number of breeding and globally threatened species of
albatrosses and petrels. Despite this, New Zealand seabirds have received less attention than their
terrestrial counterparts for both research and conservation. With climate change and increasing
pressure on the New Zealand marine environment and on the Southern Ocean, greater
understanding of the ecology of albatrosses and petrels can help us understand and address the
changes that are occurring. To date much of the research undertaken has been reactive rather than
proactive. Both research and management has concentrated on critically endangered species and
those known to be at risk from fisheries interactions, there have been few studies of more common
species and there has been little recent fundamental research on New Zealand seabirds. Our
national resources are clearly insufficient to meet the all the monitoring, research and management
required for the conservation of all species, let alone undertaking more fundamental research that
addresses issues in marine ecology or climate change. Currently there is no clear national strategy,
to guide the prioritisation of available resources or to best utilise international funding opportunities
and visiting researchers.
The aim of this workshop was to help develop national strategies for albatross and petrel research
and conservation in the New Zealand region. The workshop was species-focused, seeking to identify
those species where monitoring, research or management is most urgently required or most usefully
undertaken. The workshop sought to identify those actions that are essential to ensure the survival,
persistence and/or recovery of the species concerned and those species, threatened or non-
threatened, that could provide useful insights into marine ecology and climate change. In the time
available it was impossible to cover all such topics in sufficient detail. For the purposes of this
workshop we have followed the taxonomy used in Gill et al (2010)1. This differs in some respects
from that used by the Department of Conservation and by the Birdlife International World Bird
In this workshop we only considered those populations breeding on islands under New Zealand
The workshop was facilitated by;
1 Gill, B.J. ET AL. 2010, Checklist of the birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross
Dependency, Antarctica. Te Papa Press.
John Croxall (BirdLife International (manages IUCN Red List and published recent review of global
conservation priorities for seabirds; ex southern hemisphere seabird researcher)
Kerry-Jane Wilson (independent NZ researcher and author of the Ornithological Society of New
Zealand 2006 report on State of NZ seabirds).
Researchers and conservation managers who are currently or recently involved in work with New
Zealand albatrosses or petrels were invited to take part.
This report will be sent to Department of Conservation, Fisheries division of the Ministry for Primary
Industries and other key stakeholders.
The workshop was sponsored by the Australasian Seabird Group with meeting facilities provided
free of charge by the National Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa.
To contribute to the development and implementation of a national strategy for seabird research,
monitoring and conservation by:
a) identifying some priority actions for albatross and petrel research, monitoring and management;
b) suggesting ways to improve coordination and collaboration between New Zealand seabird
researchers and between researchers, managers and administrators.
A list of participants is attached as Annex 1.
1. List of taxa under consideration, together with their national and international threat status
2. BirdLife International Species Factsheets for all species of albatross and petrel breeding in New
Zealand with IUCN Red List status as globally threatened or near-threatened (sourced from
www.birdlife.org/datazone/species in July 2012).
3. Taylor, G. 2000. Action Plan for Seabird Conservation in New Zealand. Threatened Species
Occasional Publication Nos 16 & 17. Department of Conservation, Wellington.
4. Wilson, K-J. The State of New Zealands birds 2006; Special report New Zealands seabirds.
5. Rowe, S. and Taylor, G. 2006. New Zealand Seabird Priorities 2006 2011. Department of
6. Croxall et al. 2012. Seabird conservation status, threats and priority actions: a global assessment. Bird Conservation International 22 (1) 1-34. 7. New Zealand Albatross and petrel priorities workshop, powerpoint document prepared to
summarise background information and focus discussion (Annex 3)
Recommendations and conclusions
1. Taxonomic matters
A number of taxonomic issues had been raised prior to the workshop by Alan Tennyson with
subsequent comment on these by Paul Scofield and John Croxall. These issues and comments are
shown in slides 3-5 of Annex 3.
The priorities determined by the workshop (within each section species are listed in priority order)
are to investigate the:
1. Status of New Zealand taxa that are potentially cryptic endemic species; these are: a) Kermadec
Storm Petrel, b) the Codfish Island population of South Georgian Diving Petrel; c) southern and
northern populations of Cooks Petrel (in progress, with translocations maintaining separation of the
two populations); d) Grey-faced Petrel (in progress, NZ and Australian taxa probably different).
2. Status of New Zealand taxa that are potentially cryptic endemic or near-endemic species in taxon
complexes where New Zealand would have a logical lead role: a) White-bellied Storm Petrels in
South Pacific, b) the Fulmar/Fairy Prion complex (genetic analysis begun, more samples required); c)
Little Shearwater complex in the South Pacific; d) White-faced Storm Petrels complex; e) Cape Petrel
3. Taxa where New Zealand material is highly relevant to any global/regional review: a) White-
capped Albatross, (different fishing threats to NZ and Australian taxa but treated as a single entity
for bycatch analysis); b) Pterodroma petrels; c) Common Diving Petrel complex; d) Wedge-tailed
4. The New Zealand population of White-chinned Petrel (for which the name Procellaria
aequinoctialis steadi is available) has been shown to differ from other White-chinned Petrels
genetically but unpublished morphological data are not entirely in accord with this and it was not
given separate taxonomic ranking by the OSNZ checklist committee. Given the threat bycatch poses
to White-chinned Petrels there is urgent need to review the taxonomy of the New Zealand
A request was made that BirdLife International circulate the New Zealand seabird community,
initially via the workshop attendees, with the annual list of seabird taxa whose status is to be
investigated by BirdLifes Taxonomic Working Group, in order that appropriate materials and
comments may be contributed to their assessment. Greater interaction between Birdlife and New
Zealand researchers on status and taxonomic matters would be mutually beneficial.
2 ACAP species breeding in New Zealand
New Zealand has ninety-two populations of 16 ACAP species, 10 of which are endemic. This is
more than any other jurisdiction yet New Zealands contribution to the conservation,
management and research of ACAP species fails to reflect the importance of the New Z