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Statement by Ms. Christine Bogle on World Migratory Bird Day 2019

Patricia Espinosa - UNFCCC
Ms. Christine Bogle, 
ACAP Executive Secretary

Albatrosses and their kin are pelagic seabirds which mainly breed on remote oceanic islands and forage over the open sea. They can travel enormous distances across oceans during foraging flights and migratory journeys, crossing international boundaries and venturing onto the High Seas.  They feed on live prey or by scavenging at or near the sea surface.  Unfortunately, all the species so far studied are prone to seizing and ingesting pieces of floating plastic.  A wide range of such items has been found in their stomachs, from plastic bags, toothbrushes, cigarette lighters, plastic straws, and toy soldiers to fragments of latex balloons and Styrofoam: the list seems endless.  Concern has also been expressed at the harmful effects of chemicals that may leach out of swallowed plastic.

 

Ingested plastic can be fed to chicks by regurgitation from their parents, accumulating in stomachs, leading to a false feeling of satiation that could cause fledging underweight with a lower chance of subsequent survival.  Larger plastic pieces ingested can cause injury to the alimentary canal.  Birds can starve to death if swallowing prey is overly hindered by ingested plastic.

 

Solving the problem of plastic ingestion by seabirds needs a broad-based approach, tackling marine litter at source and reducing single-use plastic.  ACAP will continue to support studies of plastic pollution in albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters and will continue to draw attention to the problem through its website and by Facebook  postings.

 

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP; www.acap.aq) is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.  ACAP came into force in February 2004 and currently has 13 member countries and covers 31 species of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters.

Back to the 2019 Statements Page