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The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, or ACAP, is an international treaty aimed at protecting the world’s dwindling populations of albatrosses and petrels. These birds are some of the most threatened species on our planet, with many facing the risk of extinction due to human activities such as climate change, pollution and overfishing.

The ACAP was first endorsed in 2001 by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and it has since been ratified by 14 countries and the European Union. The treaty’s ultimate goal is to reduce the impact of human activities on albatrosses and petrels, by promoting conservation measures and sustainable fishing practices.

The importance of albatrosses and petrels

Albatrosses and petrels are magnificent birds that inhabit the world’s oceans, from the tropics to the Subantarctic. Albatrosses are known for their extensive wingspans, often exceeding 3 meters, while petrels come in a variety of sizes and colors, ranging from small to medium-sized birds.

These birds are vital to the marine ecosystem, serving as a key indicator of ocean health. They play a crucial role in the food chain, eating small fish and crustaceans and transferring nutrients from the ocean to land. In addition, albatrosses and petrels help to disperse seeds and pollinate plants on remote islands, which are important breeding grounds for many seabird species.

Threats to albatrosses and petrels

Despite their critical role in the marine ecosystem, albatrosses and petrels are facing a range of threats that have pushed many species to the brink of extinction. The primary threats that these birds face include:

– Overfishing: Many albatross and petrel species are threatened by excessive fishing, particularly by longline fishing vessels. These birds are attracted to the baited hooks and can become caught in the lines, drowning or suffering serious injuries.

– Habitat loss: Many seabirds rely on remote islands for breeding, but these habitats are in danger of being destroyed by human activities such as mining, oil and gas exploration, and tourism.

– Climate change: Global warming and ocean acidification are also major threats to albatrosses and petrels, as they disrupt the distribution and abundance of their prey species.

The ACAP`s role in conservation

The ACAP aims to mitigate these threats by promoting the conservation of albatrosses and petrels through a range of measures. These include:

– Reducing bycatch: The ACAP works to reduce the number of albatrosses and petrels that are caught unintentionally by longline fishing vessels. This is done through initiatives such as bird-scaring devices, line weighting, and setting hooks at night when birds are less active.

– Protecting breeding grounds: The treaty promotes the protection and restoration of key breeding habitats for albatrosses and petrels, such as remote islands.

– Encouraging sustainable fishing practices: The ACAP encourages the adoption of sustainable fishing practices, such as seasonal fishing closures and the use of selective fishing gear. This helps to prevent overfishing and reduce the risk of bycatch.

– Raising awareness: The treaty also aims to raise awareness about the importance of albatrosses and petrels and the threats they face, through education programs, public outreach, and advocacy.


The ACAP is an essential tool in the conservation of albatrosses and petrels, which are key indicators of the health of our oceans. By promoting conservation measures and sustainable fishing practices, the ACAP is helping to reduce the impact of human activities on these magnificent birds and their habitats.

As individuals, we can also play a role in protecting albatrosses and petrels. This can be done by supporting sustainable fishing practices and reducing our carbon footprint to combat climate change, as well as promoting public awareness about the importance of these birds and the threats they face. By working together, we can ensure a brighter future for albatrosses, petrels, and the world’s oceans.

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