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African Journal of Marine Science

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CONSERVING SURFACE-NESTING SEABIRDS AT THE PRINCE EDWARD ISLANDS: THE ROLES OF RESEARCH, MONITORING AND LEGISLATION

R JM CRAWFORD, J COOPER

Abstract


South Africa's subantarctic Prince Edward Islands support substantial proportions of the global populations of a number of surface-nesting seabirds. Populations of most of these have decreased at the islands since the 1980s and 12 of 16 species are regarded as Threatened or Near Threatened regionally or internationally. The main causes of population decreases are thought to be by-catch mortality of albatrosses and giant petrels in longline fisheries, and environmental change influencing availability of prey to penguins and the Crozet shag Phalacrocorax [atriceps] melanogenis. It is proposed that the Prince Edward Islands Special Nature Reserve be expanded to include surrounding territorial waters so as to afford additional protection for seabirds breeding there, especially those species feeding near to the islands. Consideration needs also to be given to listing species as threatened or protected in terms of planned new legislation in South Africa and then developing management plans for them, preferably linked closely with the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels and the National Plan of Action (NPOA) – Seabirds. The islands should also be nominated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in recognition of their importance to seabirds, with 13 of the 16 species exceeding the 1% of the global population criterion. A combination of research, monitoring and legislation will help conserve the surface-nesting seabirds of the Prince Edward Islands into the 21st century, but only providing the effects of climate change can somehow be addressed.

Afr. J. mar. Sci. 25: 415–426



http://dx.doi.org/10.2989/18142320309504031
AJOL African Journals Online