The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reports the take of a short-tailed albatross in the Pacific cod demersal longline fishery of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI), according to James W. Balsiger, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS. The event occurred on September 26, 2020 near Zhemchug Canyon, in NMFS reporting area 521 (see Figure 1). Short-tailed albatross are listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is the first recorded take of a short-tailed albatross by any fisheries operating in the BSAI or Gulf of Alaska Management Area (GOA) since 2014.
The world population of the endangered short-tailed albatross is currently estimated at less than 9,000 individuals. The ESA protects the short-tailed albatross in Alaska waters and throughout its range.
The NMFS Alaska Regional Office, NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and the USFWS are actively coordinating efforts and communicating in response to this mortality event and are complying to the fullest extent with ESA requirements to protect this species.
To assist in this coordinated effort, NMFS suggests that vessels transiting and fishing in reporting areas near 521 use extra caution by avoiding areas of large seabird congregations and by minimizing the use of external lighting at night. Many seabirds are believed to be attracted to brightly lit vessels in the dark. NMFS encourages vessel operators to consider not deploying gear amidst congregations of threatened and endangered birds; if possible, move on to a location where short-tailed albatross are not present.
NMFS reminds operators of hook-and-line vessels in the BSAI and GOA that they are required to employ multiple seabird avoidance measures, such as streamer lines, under fishery regulations pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act.
NOAA Fisheries also reminds vessel operators that any short-tailed albatross or other ESA-listed seabird found injured or dead on board, or caught by hook-and-line gear, should be retained and reported immediately to NMFS (1-800-853-1964 or 907-586-7228) or the NMFS observer onboard.
Detailed information on seabird avoidance measures is available on the Seabird Avoidance Gear and Methods web page.
This information bulletin provides information about regulations at 50 CFR 679.24(e) and 679.51(e)(1)(viii)(F).
Endangered Species Act – Threatened and Endangered Seabirds of Alaska