What We Do: Seabird Conservation

Our oceans have an amazing diversity and abundance of life. They also play a huge role in sustaining human populations. Seabirds are one of the most threatened group of birds in the world, with 15 out of 22 species of albatross threatened with extinction. They are also an important indicator of ocean health, and it’s our mission to conserve them.

Pelagic Seabirds


Bycatch mitigation

The work of the Albatross Task Force is to reduce seabird deaths due to interactions with fishing gear. We work directly with fishermen to understand the realities and challenges at sea, thereby creating opportunities for the exchange of knowledge.

Island Restoration

Marion Island is a South African territory in the south Atlantic which is home to several threatened seabird species. Unfortunately, these birds are threatened by an unlikely but voracious predator: the house mouse. We are partnering with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and others in a collaborative effort, Saving Marion Island’s Seabirds: the Mouse-Free Marion Project, to eradicate mice from the island, using methods employed in other successful eradications.

Coastal Seabirds

The draft EIA for Algoa Bay recognised that underwater noise may adversely affect African Penguins by increasing their foraging effort and, consequently, negatively impacting their reproductive success. However, an underwater noise impact assessment was not performed. Credit Chris van Rooyen

Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Managment

An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) aims to manage fisheries in a holistic way, which takes into account the needs of predators or other species dependent on the fisheries target species. The Coastal Seabird Conservation team is working on multiple fronts to ensure the fishery affecting South Africa’s coastal seabirds is managed more sustainably.

Creating new colonies

BirdLife South Africa and partners are attempting to establish a penguin colony, which will be protected from predators, on the south coast mainland. The aim is to create resilience in the penguin population by increasing the number of colonies and bridge the gap between the west and east populations.

Critical Seabird Habitats

Heading out to sea. Credit Christina Hagen/BirdLife South Africa

Protected Area Expansion

The gazetting of South African Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) extended the protection of important marine biodiversity areas to 5% of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2019. This achievement is commendable but more needs to be done. The Seabird Conservation Programme is working with the government and other organisations to identify other important areas for seabirds, which require protection.

Atlas of Seabirds @ Sea

The Atlas of Seabirds at Sea (AS@S), pronounced “ay-sass”, is a project to gather data on the distribution of seabirds at sea by using a standardised ship-based observation protocol.


We are an active member of the Responsible Fisheries Alliance, a partnership of like-minded organisations, which aims to drive responsible fishing practices to ensure that healthy marine ecosystems underpin a robust seafood industry.