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IB 24-13: NOAA Fisheries Reports Take of a Short-Tailed Albatross in the Gulf of Alaska

March 05, 2024 - 3:30 p.m.

Notice of a short-tailed albatross take in the Gulf of Alaska

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reports a mortality event of a short-tailed albatross in the Pacific cod demersal longline fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), according to Jon Kurland, Administrator, NMFS Alaska Region. The event occurred on December 8, 2023 southeast of Unalaska Islands, in NMFS reporting area 610 (see Figure 1). The bird was confirmed to be a short-tailed albatross by the leg bands. The bands confirm the bird was a chick at Hatsunezaki colony on Torishima Island in Japan in March 2023. 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) or GOA Management Areas since 2020.

Gulf of Alaska map showing approximate location of short-tailed albatross take.
















Figure 1. Approximate location of take of a short-tailed albatross on December 8, 2023 (red star).


The world population of the endangered short-tailed albatross is currently estimated at over just 10,000 individuals. The ESA protects short-tailed albatross throughout its range, including Alaska waters. Under the ESA, NMFS is required to consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on effects to the short-tailed albatross from continued prosecution of the BSAI and GOA groundfish and halibut fisheries. As a result of that consultation, the USFWS issued an incidental take statement to NMFS for the BSAI and GOA groundfish and halibut fisheries, authorizing a yearly take of three short-tailed albatrosses due injury or mortality from encounters with hook and line groundfish gear or collision with trawl gear (including third wire and warp cables). To account for interannual variability, a floating 2-year period is used to quantify reported take for each 2-year take average, not to exceed six albatrosses in a 2-year period. If the incidental take level is exceeded, reinitiation of ESA consultation is required. To-date, the incidental take levels have not been exceeded.

The NMFS Alaska Regional Office, NOAA Fisheries 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 fishing vessels 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.

NMFS 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 (800) 853-1964 or (907) 586-7228, the fisheries observer onboard, or to the USFWS at (800) 858-7621 or (907) 271-2888.

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).

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on March 05, 2024