Above picture:  Delegates attending the Thirteenth Meeting of the ACAP Advisory Committee outside Queen Elizabeth House, Edinburgh, Scotland; photograph by Bree Forrer

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), which entered into force on 1 February 2004, is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.  The Agreement currently has 13 Parties.  In 2019 ACAP’s Advisory Committee declared that a conservation crisis continues to face its 31 listed species, with thousands of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters dying every year because of fisheries operations and from other threats, including from introduced predators at breeding sites.

At ACAP’s most recent meetings, held in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK in May, its Population and Conservation Status Working Group (PaCSWG) considered an information paper (click here) submitted by the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project and co-written by Dr Azwianewi Makhado (Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, DFFE) and Dr Anton Wolfaardt (MFM Project Manager).  Their paper sets out the background and need for the project that aims to eradicate House Mice on Marion Island and reports on its current status.  It ends by inviting the PaCSWG, ACAP and ACAP Parties “to follow our progress, and endorse and support the MFM Project which aims to achieve a more favourable conservation status for Marion Island and its globally important seabirds, including eight ACAP-listed species”.  Following discussion, the PaCSWG recognised that this is a key project at a major global breeding site and urged all who could support the work to do so.  The PaCSWG then recommended that the ACAP Advisory Committee endorse and support the MFM Project.

The 13th Meeting of the ACAP Advisory Committee (AC13) the following week heard a presentation of the PaCSWG report (click here) from its Convenors that inter alia drew attention to its recommendation on the MFM Project.  Following discussion among the ten Parties present, AC13 agreed to endorse and encourage support for the MFM Project, reiterating its importance (click here).

Sooty Albatross and chick: at risk from introduced House Mice on Marion Island; artwork by Di Roberts for ACAP after a photograph by Michelle Risi

The international support received from ACAP means that all the Parties to the Agreement have endorsed the MFM Project.  These include those nations that hold breeding populations of one or more of the eight ACAP-listed species of albatrosses and petrels that breed on Marion Island.  These Parties are Argentina, Australia, France, Chile, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  Endorsement by these six nations joins support for the project within South Africa, recently confirmed by Ms Barbara Creecy, Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment in her budget speech (click here).

Dr Azwianewi Makhado (DFFE and South Africa’s National Contact Point for the Agreement) writes to MFM News:  “South Africa appreciates the support and endorsement of the progress coming from ACAP’s Advisory Committee at its Thirteenth Meeting held in May.  It also appreciates the effort being made by the MFM Project to eradicate mice on Marion Island.  The country will continue to provide support for this important project to help conserve the albatross and petrel species that breed on the island.”

Dr Sue Tonin, MFM’s recently appointed Assistant Project Manager, also expresses her thanks: “ACAP’s welcome support of the eradication of House Mice from Marion Island reflects an international understanding of the effectiveness of this approach for protecting vulnerable procellariforms breeding on the world’s islands.  The Mouse-Free Marion Project Team is reliant on the pioneering nations, organizations and individuals who are continually refining the techniques we will be using in this operation, and on the dedicated support of researchers and policymakers.”

The international and national endorsements received by the MFM Project are an encouragement to the project’s team and its many supporters and funders in South Africa and around the world to intensify their efforts to ensure the end of Marion’s mice.  We are all deeply appreciative!

With thanks to Robert Crawford, who represented South Africa at the ACAP meetings in Scotland and Wiesława Misiak, Science Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.


Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels 2023.  Report of the Thirteenth Meeting of the Advisory Committee, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 22-26 May.  68 pp.

Makhado, A. & Wolfaardt, A. 2023.  The Mouse-Free Marion Project.  Seventh Meeting of the Population and Conservation Status Working Group, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 18 – 19 May 2023.  PaCSWG7 Inf 05.  5 pp.

Population and Conservation Status Working Group 2023  Report of the Population and Conservation Status Working Group.  Thirteenth Meeting of the Advisory Committee Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 22 – 26 May 2023.  AC13 Doc 09.  43 pp.


John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 27 June 2023


A Northern Giant Petrel broods its chick on Marion Island; photograph by Janine Schoombie, poster design by Michelle Risi. See more freely downloadable Mouse-Free Marion Project posters here  

The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate.  For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org