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IB 14-49: NMFS Reports the Incidental Take of a Short-Tailed Albatross in the BSAI Hook-and-Line Groundfish Fishery

September 16, 2014 - 10:04 a.m.

Notice of a short-tailed albatross take in the Bering Sea.

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) and the take of a second unidentified albatross in the same haul, the identity of which will be evaluated after the observer debriefing. The birds were taken on September 7, 2014 at 58' 47' 54' N and 177' 43' 36' W in NMFS reporting area 521. The confirmed short-tailed albatross had an identifying leg band from its natal breeding colony in Japan and was five years old. The last three documented STAL takes in Alaska were in August 2010, September 2010, and October 2011.

The world population of the endangered short-tailed albatross is currently estimated at almost 4,400 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, 2013. 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 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 at: Seabird Avoidance Gear and Methods webpage.

This information bulletin provides information about regulations at 50 CFR 679.24(e). See this cite for the specific regulations.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on November 09, 2021

Seabird Bycatch Bycatch