From overfishing of prey, to climate change, and pollution, seabirds are threatened at every part of their life cycle. That's why Audubon is working to reverse the seabird crisis by focusing on sustainable fisheries management, marine protected areas, and our Seabird Institute.
Audubon protects seabirds and the small, schooling fish they rely on. By defending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, our nation’s only federal fisheries law, we are protecting the long-term sustainability of our fisheries, for the benefit of seabirds and other wildlife that need a healthy ocean. This law has successfully helped recover 44 fish species from overfishing, and it supports a number of commercial and recreational fishing industries across the United States.
We are also working to improve the way that states and federal governments manage forage fish, the small, schooling fish that seabirds, dolphins, whales, and other large fish rely on. Forage fish, like sardines and herring, are the base of the ocean food web, and they are threatened by overfishing and the effects of climate change. We’re working to advance policies that take into account the importance of forage fish for seabirds and other marine wildlife when making decisions about how many fish can be taken out of the ocean.
A unanimous vote today recognizes the important role menhaden play for birds, fish, and other wildlife on the Atlantic Coast.
Marine Protected Areas
We are working to establish marine protected areas at key locations throughout the Western Hemisphere, including in the U.S., Bahamas, and Chile. Marine protected areas are key to providing habitats for seabirds, fish, and other marine life that benefit coastal communities and economies. For example, the new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which Audubon and others helped establish through advocacy and education encompasses crucial wintering grounds for Atlantic Puffins that nest in Maine. Its designation as a national monument limits fishing, drilling, and mining within this nearly 5,000-square-mile region. In addition, in the Bahamas, our scientific data was factored into the establishment of the 92,000-acre Joulter Cays Marine Protected Area, which is the wintering home for thousands of shorebirds, including 10% of the Atlantic population of Piping Plovers. Such protections uphold rich habitats that grow commercial fish populations, while providing a refuge for birds and other wildlife. In coalition with our partners, Audubon will advocate for continued and new protections for these marine protected areas.
The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act will help seabirds and coastal communities persevere in the face of climate change.
Over the last 40 years, Audubon's Seabird Institute (formerly known as Project Puffin) has accumulated significant data on seabirds and their diets, restored seabird nesting colonies in Maine for approximately 42,000 seabirds and exported these techniques to seventeen countries, and inspired hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and internationally to support seabird conservation. Audubon’s network of seven actively managed seabird nesting islands and the Hog Island headquarters and educational facility are located in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine, one of the fastest-warming regions of the global ocean. This network serves as a living laboratory to study and teach about climate change impacts on seabirds and the fish and marine ecosystems on which they depend.