Australasian Seabird Group (ASG)

The Birder's Market | Resource | Conservation organisations  | Australasia |  Australasian Seabird Group (ASG)

Australasian Seabird Group (ASG)

Australasian Seabird Group (ASG)

The ASG, the oldest of Birds Australia's Special Interest Groups, was formed in 1971. Its objectives are to promote seabird research and conservation in Australiasia. The Group pursues its objectives through the co-ordination of the beach patrol project, publication of the bulletin and other seabird material (Seabird Atlas, Journal of Marine Ornithology), organisation of symposia of issues affecting seabirds and presents expert opinion on the management and conservation of seabird populations in Australasia.

Beach Patrol Project

The Birds Australia Beach Patrol scheme has used regular patrols of our coastline for beachcast seabirds in an effort to discover what is happening to the populations of seabirds in Australasian seas and the Southern Ocean, as well as of their seasonal movements and causes of mortality. The aims and methodology of this project are under review; there is the potential for beach patrollers to monitor oceanic pollution by oil spills and plastic debris, as well as compiling indices of seabird mortality.

Seabird Atlas

The Atlas of Southeast Australian Seabirds has being published recently. Australia's first seabird atlas is based on over 42,000 records of 80 species collected on more than 70 oceanic cruises. It covers about 90% of the area off the coasts of south-eastern South Australia, southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, as far as 49 degrees South.

The data are presented graphically as maps of relative abundance in one-degree blocks, and also in terms of seasonal distribution. The associated database forms an invaluable resource for future comparisons, in order to determine trends in seabird distribution and numbers. It also serves as a model for similar atlases covering other seas and coasts in the Region.

Conservation

There are many serious problems facing seabirds today. One of the most urgent of these is the catastrophic decline of some albatross populations in the Southern Ocean as a direct result of mortality from the Southern Bluefin Tuna longline fishery. Some breeding populations, and possibly entire species, face extinction within a few years if nothing is done to prevent birds being hooked and drowned on the tuna longlines.

Other problems include marine pollution, human persecution and disturbance, and the introduction of feral predators to breeding islands. A more long-term concern is that global climate change may affect the numbers and distribution of prey. One of the most important tasks of the new ASG will be to make governments and the community aware of such threats and to recommend ways of dealing with them.

Many seabirds are threatened on the open seas, outside the jurisdiction or capability of national governments to protect them. Seabirds form a group that requires global cooperation between governments and NGOs to conserve them.

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The Birder's Market | Resource | Conservation organisations  | Australasia |  Australasian Seabird Group (ASG)

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