Antipodean albatross - vulnerable species listing

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis Robertson & Warham 1992, as a VULNERABLE SPECIES on Schedule 2 of the Act. Listing of Vulnerable Species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

The Scientific Committee found that:

1. The Antipodean Albatross is a large Albatross; breeding is confined to New Zealand. The majority of birds breed on Antipodes Island, with a small number of pairs breeding on Campbell Island. The species ranges across the southern Pacific Ocean, east to the coast of Chile and west to eastern Australia. The species is listed as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.

2. The Antipodean Albatross breeds biennially. Egg laying begins in January (Antipodes Island) and February (Campbell Island), and chicks usually fledge the following year in January and March (Gales 1998).

3. Forage for the Antipodean Albatross is extremely patchy, both spatially and temporally, and individuals traverse great distances in search of food. The Antipodean Albatross regularly occurs in small numbers off the New South Wales south coast from Green Cape to Newcastle during winter where they feed on cuttlefish (H. Battam, pers. comm.; Blakers et al. 1984 included within Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans). Although representing a small proportion of its total foraging area, potential forage in NSW waters is nonetheless considered significant for the species.

4. The annual breeding population of the Antipodean Albatross is relatively small and has been estimated at 5,154 pairs (Gales 1998). Occasional surveys of the Campbell Island population (representing only a small percentage of the total population) since the 1960s demonstrates it has remained stable for several decades (Gales 1998). The Antipodes Island population has been poorly recorded in the past.

5. The Antipodean Albatross is threatened by longline fishing. 'Incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations' is a Commonwealth listed Key Threatening Process (EPBC Act 1999). The species was confirmed as bycatch during a study of tuna longline fishing in New Zealand waters between 1988 and 1992 (Murray et al. 1993). The substantial threat posed by longline fishing is exacerbated by the species' small breeding population and the low reproductive potential of individuals. Further, the dependence of Antipodean Albatrosses on only two breeding locations increases their vulnerablity to local extinction via stochastic events.

6. Within NSW waters, potential threats are the loss of the southern cuttlefish populations, illegal longline fishing and oil spills.

7. In view of the above points, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis, is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate, and is therefore eligible for listing as a vulnerable species.

Proposed Gazettal date: 05/10/01

Exhibition period: 05/10/01 - 0911/01


Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F. and Reilly, P.N. (1984). 'The Atlas of Australian Birds'. Melbourne University Press: Melbourne.

Gales, R. (1998). Albatross populations: status and threats. In 'Albatross Biology and Conservation'. (Eds G. Robertson and R. Gales.) pp. 20-45. Surrey Beatty and Sons: Chipping Norton.

Murray, T., Bartle, J.A., Kalish, S.R. and Taylor, P. (1993). Incidental capture of seabirds by Japanese southern bluefin tuna longline vessels in New Zealand waters 1988-1992. Bird Conservation International 3, 181-210.

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Page last updated: 27 February 2011