Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Listed marine
Listed migratory - Bonn
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Macronectes giganteus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001h) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan 2014 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014o) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzp) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares 2009 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009u) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Marine bioregional plan for the Temperate East Marine Region (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012aa) [Admin Guideline].
 
Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Information Sheets Background Paper, Population Status and Threats to Albatrosses and Giant Petrels Listed as Threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011k) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (29/03/2001) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2001h) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Southern Giant-Petrel - endangered species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2001c) [Internet].
NSW:Southern Giant-Petrel - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005hg) [Internet].
QLD:Southern giant-petrel (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), 2012j) [Database].
TAS:Macronectes giganteus (Southern Giant-Petrel): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014vn) [State Action Plan].
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 181 - Nine Threatened Seabirds (Holliday, I., 2003c) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
SA: Listed as Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
TAS: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Least Concern (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Vulnerable (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
WA: Listed as P4 (Priority Flora and Priority Fauna List (Western Australia): April 2014 list)
Scientific name Macronectes giganteus [1060]
Family Procellariidae:Procellariiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Gmelin,1789)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

The current conservation status of the Southern Giant-Petrel, Macronectes giganteus, under Australian legislation is as follows:

National: Listed as an Endangered, Marine, and Migratory species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act 1999.

Scientific name: Macronectes giganteus

Common name: Southern Giant-Petrel

Other names: Giant Fulmar, Glutton, Mollymawk, Mother Carey's or Sea Goose, Nelly, Stinker, Stinkpot, Vulture of the Seas, Bone-shaker (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The Southern Giant-Petrel is considered to be a sibling species to the Northern Giant-Petrel. It was not identified as a separate species until the 1960s, when a detailed study of the breeding biology of the giant-petrels uncovered that there were actually two distinct species breeding side by side on Macquarie Island (Bourne & Warham 1966). The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), of which Australia is a signatory, has established a working group on the taxonomy of albatrosses and petrels. This working group considers the Southern Giant-petrel to be a conventially accepted species.

The Southern Giant Petrel is the largest petrel, and has been described as looking like a small, ungainly brown albatross with a massive greenish-tipped straw coloured bill, surmounted by a large single nostril-tube (Pizzey & Knight 1999). Mature adults are grey-brown with a faded and mottled-white head, neck and breast. The underwing has a pale leading edge, near the body, which should aid in discrimination from the Northern Giant Petrel, in which this area is dark brown (Pizzey & Knight 1999).

The Southern Giant-Petrel breeds on six subantarctic and Antarctic islands in Australian territory; Macquarie Island, Heard Island and McDonald Island in the Southern Ocean, and Giganteus Island, Hawker Island, and Frazier Island in the Australian Antarctic Territories (EABG 2001, Woehler et al. 2001; Woehler et al. in press).

The Southern Giant-Petrel is widespread throughout the Southern Ocean (Patterson et al. in press; Woehler et al. 2001).

The Southern Giant-Petrel has a world population of approximately 62 000 individuals (31 300 annual breeding pairs) and is inferred to have sustained a population reduction of at least 20% over the last 60 years. The species is in continued rapid decline. There has been a decrease in the population estimate of 17.6% (1.2% per year) between the last published estimate in 1985 (38 000 pairs, Hunter 1985), and the most recent estimate in 2002 (Patterson et al. in press). However, many populations have not been censused within the last fifteen years. Thirty populations contain 500 or fewer annual breeding pairs. Fifteen of these localities have 50 or fewer breeding pairs. These populations are of a critically low size and hence are in danger of extirpation. Many of the breeding populations have suffered substantial decreases whereas only a few populations have demonstrated recent increases (Patterson et al. in press).

At Marion Island, from 1977 to 1999, analysis of thirteen whole-island counts indicated that there was no linear trend in the population of the Southern Giant-Petrel, but suggested that there was a population increase from 1977 to 1986, a decrease in the late 1980s and second peak in 1995, followed by a steep decrease over the last four years. At Ile de la Possession (nine population counts from 1981 to 1999), a linear model detected a significant increase in population size, most obviously since 1993 (Woehler et al. 2001). In the Antarctic Peninsula region (four populations including Australian territory and the French territory of Pointe Géologie archipelago (Terre Adélie), the overall population is currently increasing, in contrast to other regional populations (Flint & Swift 2000; Woehler & Croxall 1997; Woehler et al. 2001). Chick counts at Palmer island increased by 2.7% per year since 1974. Populations in the King George Island area decreased significantly, with reversal in population trajectory from increasing to decreasing during the late 1980s (Woehler et al. 2001).

The Southern Giant-Petrel formerly bred at Tristan da Cunha Island (United Kingdom) and Bouvet Island (Norway). However, it no longer breeds on these islands or around Signy Island Base (EABG 2001).

The locations and status of non-Australian breeding populations of Southern Giant-Petrels are as follows (EABG 2001, Woehler et al. 2001; Woehler et al. in press):


Breeding Locality Annual Breeding Pairs Year of Census Population Status 2001
McDonald Island 1 400 1979 ?
Antarctic Peninsula 690 before 1997 ?
Anvers Island 634 before 1997 Increasing?
Livingston Island 366 before 1994 ?
Greenwich Island 41 1966 ?
Robert Island 286 before 1986 ?
Nelson Island 912 before 1995 ?
King George Island 3592 before 1995 Decreasing
Elephant Island 845 1971 ?
Seal Island 25 1971 ?
South Orkney Island

- Signy Island

- Laurie Island

 

3036

398

 

before 1988

before 1995

 

?

?

South Sandwich Island 1 551 1996 ?
Bouvet Island 0 1989 Extinct
Crozet Island

- Ile aux Cochons

- Ile des Pingouin

- Ile de L'est

- Ile des Apotres

- Ile de la Possession

 

575

50

323

10

105

 

1981

1981

1981

1981

1994

 

?

?

?

?

Increasing

Kerguelen Island 4 1985 ?
Marion Island 2026 1997 Decreasing
Prince Edward Island 410 1990 ?
Falkland Island 3122 1994 ?
South Georgia Islands

- Bird Island

- Albatross Island

- South Georgia

- Salisbury Plain

 

521

150

5 500

3 550

 

1995

1976

1978

1976

 

Decreasing?

?

?

?

Isla Noir 200 ? ?
Isla Diego Ramirez 60 ? ?
Isla Gran Robredo 695 1992 Increasing
Isla Arce 155 1993 ?
Isla Observatorio 181 1995 ?
Isla de los Estados 30 1971 ?
Gough Island 49 1979 ?
Tristan da Cunha 0 before 1870 Extinct


? Population status is unknown due to a lack of recent or consistent population censuses

A joint State and Federal Government study commissioned by the Natural Heritage Trust is studying the movements of both Northern and Southern Giant-Petrels nesting on Macquarie Island using satellite tracking. This study represents the first satellite tracking of these species in Australian waters and complements existing satellite tracking data obtained for Giant Petrels at South Georgia (British Antarctic Survey) and Palmer Station, Antarctica (DEH 2006).

The total population of the Southern Giant-Petrel breeding in Australian territory is around 7090 breeding pairs (EABG 2001, Woehler et al. 2001; Woehler et al. in press).

There were 2293 breeding pairs of the Southern Giant-Petrel on Macquarie Island when it was censused in the period 1998 to 1999, and the population was considered to be decreasing. There were 3154 breeding pairs on Heard Island when this was censused in the period 1987 to 1988. There were 1400 breeding pairs on McDonald Island in the Southern Ocean when it was censused in 1979. Giganteus Island, Hawker Island, and Frazier Island in the Australian Antarctic Territories respectively supported three, 25 and 215 breeding pairs of Southern Giant-Petrels when they were censused in 1998 to 1999. The population of Giganteus Island was considered to be stable, and the populations of Hawker Island and Frazier Island were considered to be increasing (EABG 2001, Woehler et al. 2001; Woehler et al. in press).

Breeding populations of the Southern Giant-Petrel decreased following their discovery in areas under Australian jurisdiction (EABG 2001), but some have shown recent evidence of recovery (Woehler et al. in press). In the Australian Antarctic Territory, a population decrease occurred at Giganteus Island between 1957 and 1981 (from 24 pairs to one pair) but the population has been stable at two or three pairs from 1982 to 2000. At Hawker Island, a decrease from 1963 to 1981 was followed by an increase to 25 nests in 1999, which is lower than the 40 to 50 pairs originally present. At Frazier Island, 250 pairs were originally present and there was no linear trend. Non-linear modelling of this population suggests that the population decreased between 1955 and 1977 (to 57 pairs in 1982) and increased after that to 215 pairs between 1998 and 1999 (Woehler et al. in press).

The Southern Giant-Petrel is marine bird that occurs in Antarctic to subtropical waters. In summer, it mainly occurs over Antarctic waters, and it is widespread south as far as the pack-ice and onto the Antarctic continent (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

In the Ross Sea, the Southern Giant-Petrel ranges from the Antarctic continent to the 3° C sea surface temperature isotherm. In early summer, it is most abundant over the continental slope, and in late summer, it has a uniform distribution from the continental slope north to the Antarctic Polar Front. It also occurs south to the Ross Ice Shelf at low densities. It has no preference for pack-ice of a particular density, but it may avoid crossing extensive ice sheets, which dampen sea swell and inhibit soaring.

The Southern Giant-Petrel is abundant over the pack-ice near penguin colonies. In summer, it also occurs over subantarctic waters near its breeding islands in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, in subantarctic to southern subtropical waters on the Argentinean continental shelf and off New Zealand and the cold eastern boundary current off South America. It possibly concentrates north of 50° S in winter, as it is rare in waters of the southern Indian Ocean, but common off South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It occurs in both pelagic and inshore waters. It is attracted to land at sewage outfalls. It scavenges ashore, so at Iles Crozet, its distribution shifts towards land in summer, when birds frequent penguin and seal colonies (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The Southern Giant-Petrel breeds on the Antarctic Continent, Peninsula and islands, and on subantarctic islands and South America. The large nests are normally built in exposed areas of open vegetation (Voisin 1988) or, in Antarctic colonies, of no vegetation (E.J. Woehler, AAD 2002, pers. comm.). In the southern Antarctic zone, it nests in exposed snow- and ice-free coastal areas, open gravel areas rocky bluffs, outcrops, ridges, slopes, mounds, raised beaches, open flats, edges of plateaux or offshore rocks from five to 120 m above sea level. Colonies often nest near a steep drop or on slope.

Nest material used by the Southern Giant-Petrel depends on availability, for example it uses tussock, moss in the Subantarctic, and small stones and bones in the Antarctic. Some nests are simply scratched in grass, bare peat or sand, or consist of a mere depression in the rock.

In Terre Adélie, the colony faces the prevailing wind, apparently because exposure assists take-off and prevents snow drift over nests. At Signy Island, drifting snow sometimes kills chicks in sheltered nests. At northern localities, colonies occur on open vegetated flats, hill sides with gentle slopes, or ridge tops. The Southern Giant-Petrel avoids tussocks at Iles Crozet and South Georgia. It nests in dense vegetation at Gough Island and Isla Noir, on sandy beaches on the Falkland Islands, and on rocky open terrain on Isla Ance off Argentina (Marchant & Higgins 1990). If the breeding colony suffers disturbance, it may use other nearby breeding habitat if it is available (Woehler et al. 2001; Woehler et al. in press). The Southern Giant-Petrel is not as common among tussocks as in Northern Giant-Petrel Macronectes halli. It nests in dense vegetation (tussock, tree ferns) at Gough Island and among scrub at Isla Noir (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

At sea, the Southern Giant-Petrel feeds mainly on the surface, but might occasionally dive to shallow depths. On the pack-ice, it will roost on icebergs and snow slopes at the sea edge (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The young Southern Giant-Petrel disperses for several years after fledging. At six to seven years of age, it returns to its natal colony as a reproductive adult (Voisin 1988). The greatest time between banding and recapture of a Southern Giant-Petrel was nineteen years and ten months (ABBBS 2000).

The Southern Giant-Petrel breeds annually. Pairs return to their breeding sites in August and September, forming dispersed colonies of ten to 300 pairs. On Macquarie Island, nests are normally about 3 m apart (Marchant & Higgins 1990). The egg is usually laid between September and October, and hatches 59 days later (Burger 1978; Johnstone 1978). At Macquarie Island, however, the egg is typically laid between the 20th of August and the 6th of September, and hatching occurs between the 25th of October and the 12th of November, and if successful, fledging occurs at 115 days of age between late January and late March (Gales et al. in press).

Breeding success ranges from 34 to 69%. At Macquarie Island, mean breeding success between 1994 and 1999 was 46% (with a range of 35 to 55%) (ABBBS 2000).

The Indian Ocean population of the Southern Giant-Petrel is highly sensitive to human disturbance, but management actions now ensure that disturbance at breeding colonies is minimised (Woehler et al. in press).

The Southern Giant-Petrel is an opportunist scavenger and predator. In summer at least, it will scavenge primarily penguin carcasses, although it will also feed on seal and whale carrion. It catches and kills live birds including Albatrosses Diomedea, a wide variety of smaller seabirds, and penguin chicks. Cephalopods (octopus and squids) are taken by surface-seizing, euphausiids (krill) are scooped from the surface of the water. It is also recorded consuming other crustaceans, kelp, fish, jellyfish, and rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus. Males eat more penguins and fewer euphausiids than do females (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The breeding diet is as follows (from Marchant & Higgins 1990, each column represents a different study):


Component of diet % mass     % frequency    
Total birds 81.9 71-93 80-87 75-85 82-100 70
Penguins 4.7 71 80 75 82 -
Other birds 7.2 22 7 10 10-25 -
Crustaceans 10.7 22 13 49-54 - 22
Euphausiids 10.7 22 13 49 - -
Fish 0.8 4 6 3 13 11
Cephalopods 1.7 12 36 49 3 11
Mammals 3.3 5 1 15 12-15 28
Other 1.8 4 60-64 3-8 - 6


At sea, the Southern Giant-Petrel forages largely by surface-seizing. It also scavenges on land and regularly follows ships. It apparently locates food by smell, and feeds its chicks both day and night. It possibly does not dive from the surface, unlike the Northern Giant-Petrel. Males and females have different diets (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

Giant-petrels follow fishing vessels and compete for baits. Many are hooked and drown, or are seriously injured, and others ingest hooks while they are scavenging offal, particularly if they scavenge hooked fish heads if these are discarded inappropriately (EABG 2001).

In summer, the Southern Giant-Petrel predominantly occurs in subantarctic to Antarctic waters, usually below a latitude of 60° south in the South Pacific and southeast Indian Oceans, or 53° S in the regions of Heard Isand and Macquarie Island. Some adults are mainly sedentary, remaining close to their subantarctic breeding islands throughout the year.

Satellite tracking surveys around Macquarie Island have shown that movement patterns are often related to breeding status. During the incubation stage, Southern Giant-Petrel adults may undertake long trips south of Macquarie Island, often covering thousands of kilometres and utilising areas south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. These trips can be up to 19 days in duration, but shorter trips covering similar distances were also recorded (DEH 2006). As the chicks hatch, the length of the foraging trips decreases and adult birds spend more time close to Macquarie Island, rarely venturing outside the boundaries of the Marine Park (DEH 2006). Southern Giant-Petrel fledglings born at Macquarie Island spend a short time relatively close to the breeding grounds before heading east and crossing the Pacific Ocean (DEH 2006). Southern Giant-Petrels banded as chicks on Heard Island and the Australian Antarctic Territory have been recorded up to 12 500km away off South America, and off Fiji, Tahiti, Easter Island and New Zealand (DEH 2006; EABG 1998).

Throughout the colder months, immatures and most adults disperse widely, with Antarctic colonies becoming completely deserted during winter. The winter dispersal is circumpolar, extending north from 50° south to the Tropic of Capricorn (23° south) and sometimes beyond these latitudes. Thus, in winter they are rare in the southern waters of the Indian Ocean, and more common off South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The waters off southeastern Australia may be particularly important wintering grounds (Marchant & Higgins 1990). In southeastern Australia, birds (mostly immatures) were recorded in all months except February, but most were recorded between June and December (Reid et al. in press).

The mean foraging range of breeding adult Southern Giant-Petrels may vary markedly. Adults were observed foraging 30 km from their colony at Hawker Island in the Australian Antarctic Territory, 190 km from South Georgia, and 470 km from Palmer Island. One satellite-tracked adult from a breeding colony on the Antarctic Peninsula was recorded foraging in the South Pacific Ocean over 2000 km away (EABG 1998). The Greatest distance travelled by a Southern Giant-Petrel between the times of banding and recovery is 14 700 km (ABBBS 1984).

Distinctiveness
The Southern Giant-Petrel is very similar in appearance to the Northern Giant-Petrel, which also breeds on Macquarie Island (Bourne & Warham 1966).

Recommended Methods
To avoid disturbance at breeding colonies, population surveys should be undertaken with minimal disturbance at three to five year intervals (Woehler et al. in press).

Longline fishing causes two main forms of mortality in the Southern Giant-Petrel; by-catch during line-setting, and ingestion of discarded fishing hooks. Hook ingestion by albatross and giant-petrels appears to have increased in recent years. Between 50 and 100 million hooks are set each year in the Southern Ocean and as many as 1.1 billion hooks are set globally. Both seabirds and fishing vessels concentrate in areas of high biological productivity. Consequently, giant-petrels are seriously threatened by longline fishing (EABG 1998).

Oceanic longline fishing has been used to target pelagic and demersal fish in the southern oceans since the 1950s, and is used in almost all Australian waters today (DEH 2006). Gales and Brothers (1995) reported that 75% of the birds killed on longlines and retained for identification were albatrosses. Internationally, some longline fishing fleets still operate without important by-catch mitigation measures. Therefore, Southern Giant-Petrels breeding within the Australian Fishing Zone are still killed on longlines from vessels operating outside the Australian Fishing Zone (EABG 2001). The recent decrease in breeding population counts at Marion Island may be due to the Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eliginoides longline fishery (Woehler et al. 2001). Recent increases in longline hook retrieval at Palmer Island indicate this is an immediate threat to the local population (Woehler et al. 2001).

Other fishing practices, such as trawling, can also cause injury or death, but this may occur only rarely, especially if vessels employ simple mitigation measures; outside of the Australian Fishing Zone, trawlers carrying netsonde monitor cables or their equivalent may cause substantial mortality. Trolling (trailing a line with baited hooks) for pelagic species such as Albacore Tuna Thunnus alalunga is another potential threat to the Southern Giant-Petrel (EABG 1998).

The Southern Giant-Petrel may be shot for sport or to reduce scavenging from commercial fishing vessels. Ingestion of plastics, entanglement in marine debris, oil spills, reduced genetic variability (inbreeding depression) and accumulation of chemical contaminants also pose risks to this species (EABG 1998; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Disturbance of breeding sites associated with the development of research stations or human visitation to breeding colonies has the potential to cause serious impacts on the Southern Giant-Petrel, through a reduction in breeding success, or because birds abandoning the colony (EABG 1998; Woehler et al. 2001; Woehler et al. in press). For example, the establishment of a field station at Signy Island (off the Antarctic Peninsula) led, within eight years, to the complete desertion of the colony of 200 breeding pairs and caused a decrease in the breeding population elsewhere on the island (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Similarly, the establishment of an Antarctic research station at Dumont d'Urville resulted in the breeding population decreasing from 69 pairs in 1969 to only two pairs in 1980 (Jouventin et al. 1984). The Falkland Island (Islas Malvinas) populations have been seriously reduced following shooting of adults and destruction of eggs, as the Southern Giant-Petrels were thought to menace sheep (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Within the King George Island area (off the Antarctic Peninsula), local populations appear to have responded to anthropogenic influences such as station construction, helicopter overflights and colony visitation (Woehler et al. 2001).

Breeding success and/or nest-site selection have probably been adversely affected by rats, cats and an elevated number of Subantarctic Skuas Catharacta lonnbergi (EABG 1998; Garnett & Crowley 2000), although the threat from the latter two has been substantially reduced (G. Copson, as cited in Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The incidental catch of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations was listed as a key threatening process on Schedule three of the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has developed a threat abatement plan for the Incidental Catch (or by-catch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations. The threat abatement plan aims to reduce seabird by-catch to below 0.05 seabirds per thousand hooks (a reduction of up to 90% of seabird by-catch within the Australian Fishing Zone) within five years by:

  • prescribing modifications to fishing practices or equipment (mitigation measures),
  • developing new mitigation measures,
  • educating fishers and the public,
  • improving knowledge of seabird-longline fishery interactions

The long-term aim is to achieve a zero by-catch of seabirds in longline fisheries, especially of threatened albatross and petrel species.

The Environment Australia Biodiversity Group considers that guidelines set out by The Longline Fishing Threat Abatement Plan (EABG 1998) and updated in 2006 (AGDEH 2006q) should minimise or eliminate the primary threat to Giant-petrels within the Australian Fishing Zone.

Marine bioregional plans have been developed for four of Australia's marine regions - South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East. Marine Bioregional Plans will help improve the way decisions are made under the EPBC Act, particularly in relation to the protection of marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of our oceans and their resources by our marine-based industries. Marine Bioregional Plans improve our understanding of Australia's oceans by presenting a consolidated picture of the biophysical characteristics and diversity of marine life. They describe the marine environment and conservation values of each marine region, set out broad biodiversity objectives, identify regional priorities and outline strategies and actions to address these priorities. Click here for more information about marine bioregional plans.

The Southern Giant-petrel has been identified as a conservation value in the Temperate East (DSEWPaC 2012aa) Marine Region. See Schedule 2 of the Temperate East Marine Bioregional Plan (DSEWPaC 2012aa) for regional advice. Maps of Biologically Important Areas have been developed for Southern Giant-petrel in the Temperate East (DSEWPaC 2012aa) Marine Region and may provide additional relevant information. Go to the conservation values atlas to view the locations of these Biologically Important Areas. The "species group report card - seabirds" for the Temperate East (DSEWPaC 2012aa) Marine Region provides additional information.

The Action Plan for Australian Birds, The Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch (or by-catch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations and The Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels provide guides to threat abatement and management strategies for the Southern Giant-petrel (Garnett & Crowley 2000; AGDEH 2006q; Environment Australia 2001f).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements Mirrors in Ice: Fulmarine Petrels and Antarctic Ecosystems Ph.D. Thesis. (van Franeker, J.A., 2001) [Ph.D. Thesis].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Commercial harvest National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Illegal fishing practices and entanglement in set nets National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Incidental capture and death due to trawling fishing activities National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Incidental capture and death due to trolling fishing activities National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Incidental capture and drowning by longline fishing National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Threat Abatement Plan for the incidental catch (or by-catch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations (Environment Australia, 1998) [Threat Abatement Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Fishing gear, oil and marine debris associated with seabirds at Bird Island South Georgia, during 1993/94. Marine Ornithology. 24:190-194. (Huin, N. & J.P. Croxall, 1996) [Journal].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Mortality due to capture, entanglement/drowning in nets and fishing lines National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Overfishing, competition with fishing operations and overfishing of prey fishing National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Commercial harvest National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat changes caused by climate change National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification, destruction and alteration due to changes in land use patterns National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human disturbance as the result of ecotourism National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:inappropriate conservation measures National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:shooting National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume One - Ratites to Ducks (Marchant, S. & P.J. Higgins, eds., 1990) [Book].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Work and Other Activities:Disturbance through scientific research National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus exulans (Pacific Rat, Polynesian Rat) National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus norvegicus (Brown Rat, Norway Rat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Nasua narica (Common Coati, Coatimundi) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Mustela erminea ferghanae (Ermin, Stoat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Canis lupus familiaris (Domestic Dog) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation by rats National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, competition and/or habitat degradation Mus musculus (House Mouse) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Capra hircus (Goat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Ovis aries (Sheep) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Bos taurus (Domestic Cattle) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:pest animal control National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation Catharacta lonnbergi lonnbergi (Subantarctic Skua (southern), Brown Skua) National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation by birds National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Dumping of household and industrial waste National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Ingestion and entanglement with marine debris National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Pollution due to oil spills and other chemical pollutants National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:heavy metals National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:spillage National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2006q). Threat Abatement Plan 2006 - Bycatch of Seabirds for the Incidental Catch (or By-catch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations. [Online]. Available from: http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=20587.

Bourne, W.R.P. & J. Warham (1966). Geographical variation in the giant-petrels of the genus Macronectes. Ardea. 54:45-67.

Burger, A.E. (1978). Interspecific breeding attempts by Macronectus giganteus and M. halli. Emu. 78:234-5.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2006). Determining Northern and Southern Giant Petrel foraging patterns and the relationship with fisheries and the Macquarie Island Marine Park & Nature Reserve. Final Report.

EABG (1998). A Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch (or By-Catch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations. [Online]. Canberra: Environment Australia Biodiversity Group. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/longline/index.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (2001f). National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/archive/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/albatross/index.html.

Flint, E. & K. Swift (2000). Second International Conference on the Biology and Conservation of Albatrosses and other Petrels, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 8-12 May 2000. Abstracts of Oral and Poster Presentations. Marine Ornithology. 28:125-152.

Gales, R. & N. Brothers (1995). Characteristics of seabirds killed in the Japanese tuna longline fishery in the Australian region. Document prepared for the first meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna Ecologically Related Species Working Group, 18-20 December 1995, Wellington, New Zealand. CCSBT-ERS/95.

Gales, R., N. Brothers, A Terauds & G. Copson (in press). Population status, productivity and at-sea records of albatrosses and giant-petrels breeding on Macquarie Island. Marine Ornithology.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Hunter, S. (1985). The role of giant-petrels in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. In: Siegfried, W.R., P.R. Condy & R.M. Laws, eds. Antarctic Nutrient Cycles and Food Webs. Page(s) 534-542. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Johnstone, G.W. (1978). Interbreeding by Macronectus halli and M. giganteus at Macquarie Island. Emu. 78:235.

Jouventin, P., Stahl, J-C., Weimerskirch, H. and Mougin, J.L. (1984). The seabirds of the French Subantarctic Islands and Adelie Land and their status and conservation. In: ICBP Technical Publication 2. Page(s) 609-625.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Marchant, S. & P.J. Higgins, eds. (1990). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume One - Ratites to Ducks. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Patterson, D.L., E.J. Woehler, J.P. Croxall, J. Cooper, S. Poncet & W.R. Fraser (in press). Breeding distribution and population status of the Northern Giant-Petrel Macronectes halli and the Southern Giant-Petrel M. giganteus. Marine Ornithology.

Pizzey, G. & F. Knight (1999). The Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Pymble, Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Voisin, J.F. (1988). Breeding biology of the Northern Giant-Petrel Macronectes halli and the Southern Giant-Petrel M. giganteus at Ile de la Possession, Iles Crozet, 1966-1980. Cormorant. 16:65-97.

Woehler, E.J. (2002). Personal communication.

Woehler, E.J. & J.P. Croxall (1997). The status and trends of Antarctic and subantarctic seabirds. Marine Ornithology. 25:43-66.

Woehler, E.J., J. Cooper, J.P. Croxall, W.R. Fraser, G.L. Kooyman, G.D. Miller, D.C. Nel, D.L. Patterson, H.U. Peter, C.A. Ribic, K. Salwicka , W.Z. Trivelpiece & H. Weimerskirch (2001). A statistical assessment of the status and trends of Antarctic and subantarctic seabirds. Report on SCAR BBS Workshop on Southern Ocean seabird populations. Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research.

Woehler, E.J., M.J. Riddle & C.A. Ribic (in press). Long-term population trends in Southern Giant Petrels in East Antarctica. In: Proceedings of Eighth SCAR Biology Symposium.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Macronectes giganteus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:17:56 +1000.