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    Foraging movements of the shy albatross Diomedea cauta breeding in Australia; implications for interactions with longline fisheries

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    Document Number:
    WG-FSA-98/33
    Author(s):
    N. Brothers, R. Gales, A. Hedd and G. Robertson (Australia)
    Agenda Item(s)
    Abstract

    Satellite telemetry was used to identify the foraging zones of Shy Albatrosses Diomedea cauta breeding at two sites off Tasmania, Australia (Albatross Island in western Bass Strait and Pedra Branca to the south) to assess their level of interaction with longline fisheries. Adult birds from both colonies fed locally both in and outside the breeding season. Breeding birds from Albatross Island foraged over the Australian continental shelf or slope waters off northwest Tasmania, while those from Pedra Branca foraged between the colony and the southeastern edge of the continental shelf. The distances travelled by the birds and the duration of their foraging trips varied during the breeding cycle and tended to decrease as eggs approached hatching. Adults which were tracked near the end of the breeding season (March-April, n = 7 birds) deserted their chicks prematurely, and while dispersing further than incubating or brooding birds, they remained over the continental shelf and slope waters off southeast Australia. Home range analyses indicated 41 % overlap between foraging zones of birds during successive breeding stages. Dispersal during the postbreeding period extended the foraging zones with less overlap between individuals (10% for Albatross Island and 19% for Pedra Branca). The recent contraction of the Japanese Southern Bluefin Tuna longline fishery to the south and east coasts of Tasmania has resulted in extensive overlap with adult Shy Albatrosses from Pedra Branca, but appears to pose a minimal threat to adult birds from Albatross Island. Coupled with the concomitant increase in the Australian domestic tuna longlining industry, adult Shy Albatrosses from southern Tasmania (Pedra Branca and the Mewstone) are vulnerable to incidental capture throughout their annual cycle.

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