The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reports the incidental take of an endangered short-tailed albatross (STAL) in the hook-and-line groundfish fishery of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). The bird was taken on October 25, 2011 at 56°35’ N and 172°52’ W in NMFS reporting area 523. The bird had an identifying leg band from its natal breeding colony in Japan and was less than two years old. The last two documented STAL takes in Alaska were in August and September 2010. The August 2010 take was located very close to this recent take.
For the years 2001-2010, chart indicates locations (brown dots) of all STAL during Sept to Nov. Data were obtained from birds tagged with satellite transmitters from 2001-2010. The most recent take (October 25, 2011) is depicted by a green star. All other documented STAL takes in Alaska fisheries for 1983 to 2010 are depicted by red stars. Credits: Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, Oregon State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ministry of Environment Japan.
The world population of the endangered short-tailed albatross is currently estimated at about 3,500 individuals. The short-tailed albatross is protected in Alaska waters by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). As a result of consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the ESA, USFWS issued an incidental take statement of four birds during each two-year period for the BSAI and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) hook-and-line groundfish fisheries. In instances where the amount or extent of incidental take is exceeded, reinitiation of formal ESA consultation is required. This is the first take in the two-year period that began on September 16, 2011. To date, the incidental take levels have not been reached during the current or any previous Biological Opinions.
The NMFS Alaska Regional Office, NMFS North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program, and the USFWS are actively coordinating efforts and communicating with each other in response to this take incident and are complying to the fullest extent with ESA requirements to protect this species. NMFS is also working closely with the Pacific cod freezer longline fleet in which the bird was taken, to evaluate what additional actions can be taken by the fleet to avoid further takes.
To assist in this coordinated effort, NMFS reminds operators of hook-and-line vessels in the BSAI and GOA that they are required to employ multiple seabird avoidance measures. “Hook-and-line vessel operators should be alert to the presence of short-tailed albatrosses in this area and fish with all due caution to avoid further incidental take of this endangered species,” said Jim Balsiger, Regional Administrator for the Alaska Region of NOAA Fisheries.
Detailed information on those requirements is available on the Seabird Bycatch Reduction page.
This information bulletin provides information about regulations at 50 CFR 679.24(e). See this cite for the specific regulations.