Sztukowski, L.A., van Toor, M.L., Weimerskirch, H., Thompson, D.R., Torres, L.G., Sagar, P.M., Cotton, P.A. & Votier, S.C. (2017). Tracking reveals limited interactions between Campbell Albatross and fisheries during the breeding season. Journal of Ornithology, 158(3), 725–735.
Fisheries-related mortality has been influential in driving global declines in seabird populations. Understanding the overlap between seabird distribution and fisheries is one important element in assessing bycatch risk, and may be achieved by tracking the movements of individual birds and fishing vessels. Here, we assess the spatiotemporal overlap between the vulnerable Campbell Albatross Thalassarche impavida and large (>28 m) commercial fishing boats in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We used a novel analytical approach, bivariate Gaussian bridge movement modelling, to compute spatiotemporal utilization distributions of bird-borne global positioning system (GPS) loggers and data from the Vessel Monitoring System. We tracked birds for 28,815 h during incubation and chick brooding, with half of this time spent within New Zealand’s EEZ, utilizing 6.7% of the available area. However, there was no evidence that albatrosses and fishing vessels were in the same location simultaneously. We accounted for the broader ecological footprint of fishing vessels by calculating the distance between GPS-fix locations for albatrosses and fishing vessels, revealing that albatrosses were within 30 km of fishing vessels in 8.4% of foraging trips. This highlights differences in estimated fine-scale spatiotemporal overlaps which may be due to the distance between albatrosses and vessels or the methods used. Overall, the low levels of spatial overlap could be a result of Campbell Albatross’ preference for foraging in areas without fishing activity or competitive exclusion by other species. Our results reinforce the importance of multi-scale, temporally explicit, and multi-national approaches to risk assessment, as Campbell Albatrosses spend approximately half of their time foraging outside New Zealand’s EEZ.