Endangered albatrosses which nest in New Zealand are under
increasing threat as they compete with commercial fishing
operations in the same waters, University of Canterbury
researcher Lorna Deppe says.
New Zealand waters are the breeding grounds for 60 percent of
albatross species worldwide which, Ms Deppe said, means New
Zealand has a huge responsibility for the conservation of
The PhD student has spent three years studying the movements
of Chatham albatross, Northern Buller's albatross and
Northern Royal albatross, all of which are endemic to New
"Using geo-locator devices, I was able to track both Chathams
and Northern Buller's albatrosses from New Zealand, and I
found highest densities of wintering birds in northern
Chilean and Peruvian waters, an area known for being one of
the world's most productive fishing grounds.
"Since bird and man go for the same resource, this is not
necessarily a surprise, but poses a two-way threat: mortality
as by-catch in fishing gear and potential depletion of food
needed to refuel during winter due to human over-fishing.
It's similar for the Northern Royal albatrosses which winter
on the Patagonian shelf in Argentina."
In the last two decades, a better understanding of the
movements of seabirds and their habitat requirements, had
taken on new urgency, she said.
A total of 19 out of 22 albatross species are currently
considered threatened. In some cases, the decline is
associated with habitat loss, pollution and the introduction
of invasive animals onto nesting islands. However, for most
species, the primary threat appears to be increased adult
mortality associated with commercial fisheries, Ms Deppe