The conservation of migratory marine species, including pelagic seabirds, is challenging because their movements span vast distances frequently beyond national jurisdictions. Here, we aim to identify important aggregations of seabirds in the North Atlantic to inform ongoing regional conservation efforts. Using tracking, phenology, and population data, we mapped the abundance and diversity of 21 seabird species. This revealed a major hotspot associated with a discrete area of the subpolar frontal zone, used annually by 2.9–5 million seabirds from ≥56 colonies in the Atlantic: the first time this magnitude of seabird concentrations has been documented in the high seas. The hotspot is temporally stable and amenable to site-based conservation and is under consideration as a marine protected area by the OSPAR Commission. Protection could help mitigate current and future threats facing species in the area. Overall, our approach provides an exemplar data-driven pathway for future conservation efforts on the high seas.
The high seas occupy approximately half of the planet. Yet, we know much less about this vast part of the ocean than any other area of the globe. The high seas are also poorly protected because there is no global regulatory framework for conservation or even sustainable use of natural resources in his area.
BirdLife has been a key stakeholder in the Convention on Biological Diversity-led process to describe Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs). We have compiled seabird tracking data and provided information on relevant marine IBAs, to guide the description of EBSAs at the Regional Workshops.
A major hotspot for foraging seabirds in the North Atlantic estimated to be used by more than 5 million seabirds from 21 species throughout the year, with birds coming from at least 56 colonies in 16 different countries is being considered by the OSPAR Convention for designation as a marine protected area called the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Seamount (NACES) MPA.