Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
ISBN: 0 642 55078 6
Relevant issues identified for each threat are listed below (based on an analysis of all available information on threats to Abbotts booby).
- Clearance of Abbotts booby breeding habitat has essentially ceased, and almost all habitat is within Christmas Island National Park.
- Wind turbulence is exacerbated downwind from clearings, with negative impacts on breeding boobies and their habitat.
- Rehabilitation of old mining fields has proceeded slowly and there are still a number of sites adjacent to critical breeding sites requiring urgent attention.
- One of these mining fields, ranked fourth highest in order of priority for rehabilitation, has been taken over as the site of the Immigration Reception and Processing Centre.
- Exotic weeds are in many old mine sites and may pose a risk to adjacent rainforest and the success of rehabilitation. Implementing the Weed Management Strategy will address this.
- It is not known how many years it will take before rehabilitation will have an effect on the breeding success of Abbotts booby.
- It is not known whether current rehabilitation practices are benefiting Abbotts booby, and which procedures are the most effective; feedback to effect best practice rehabilitation at each site is essential (Christmas Island National Park Management Plan Prescription 7.2h).
- Development of a wind turbulence model would provide guidance for rehabilitation of mining fields and may provide a means to assess the effectiveness of mining field rehabilitation.
- Rapid implementation of the CIRRP focussing on the priority sites detailed in Table 2 of the Christmas Island National Park Management Plan (Environment Australia 2002) will provide significant long-term benefits to the recovery of Abbotts booby.
- Under the new administrative arrangements for the phosphate conservation levy, it is important that the legislative requirements of the lease are met and priorities for the CIRRP remain focussed on Abbotts booby.
- The mining schedule is currently being renegotiated. PAN should be involved in these discussions and the new agreement should not compromise the ability of the CIRRP revegetation schedule to meet the legislative requirements of the Abbotts Booby Recovery Plan or Christmas Island National Park Management Plan (Prescription 7.3g).
- Potentially, Yellow crazy ants are the most serious threat facing Abbotts booby.
- Whilst a direct impact on breeding adults, eggs or nestlings has not been detected, the effect on ecosystem function is likely to lead to degradation and loss of essential breeding habitat.
- It is essential the control program for crazy ants be continued as a high priority action, with the proviso that avoidance of accidental poisoning of Abbotts booby, and minimisation of disturbance by bait distribution methods, receive the highest priority within that action.
- The siting of the Immigration Reception and Processing Centre is adjacent to prime Abbotts booby habitat and in an area with a high priority for rehabilitation.
- Construction of the facility and road upgrade may remove nesting trees and add to the wind turbulence, caused by man-made forest openings, that causes nesting failure, although most of the buildings will be single story, which should help to minimise wind turbulence.
- Every effort should be made to identify and avoid disturbance of Abbotts Booby nests sites during any future road widening and to minimise road width, although it is noted that the IRPC design does not impact outside the existing road reserve.
- At the facility itself, every effort should be made to carry out construction as far as possible from local nest sites, to minimise tree removal, and to lessen wind turbulence at nest sites downwind by careful design and placement of the centres structures. Construction contracts for the IRPC include the mandatory development of a site specific Environmental Management Plan and the briefing of all construction personnel prior to their commencement on site.
- Wherever possible rehabilitation of the unused parts of the co-opted mining fields should proceed. The Department of Finance and Administration has already undertaken to rehabilitate the area surrounding the Centre in accordance with best practice and in consultation with Parks Australia.
- Abbotts booby nesting sites are located at least 5 km from the APSC site on South Point. As a result, impacts from launching satellites are less likely than for species which nest on South Point.
- The impact of satellite launches and associated noise levels are untested for Abbotts booby.
- There may be differential affects of launches dependent on their timing (time of day, stage of breeding).
- Monitoring the impact of satellite launches to detect both short and long-term effects on Abbotts booby is essential. To assist in interpreting any effects, collection of data prior to launches will be necessary to serve as a baseline against which to assess long-term impacts.
- If operation of the APSC does impact on vital Abbotts booby population recovery rates, launches should be halted until the possible causes are understood.
- Estimating the size of the Abbotts booby population is extremely difficult and has been resource intensive when attempted.
- Annual monitoring programs were discontinued in 1994 and have not been reinstated.
- A revised monitoring program should be designed and implemented as a high priority to guide future management. This should focus on measuring population change rather than total size. Parameters that should be measured include the number of breeding pairs at sites both affected and not-affected by mining, and the breeding success or otherwise of pairs at these sites.
- Sampling design for the revised monitoring program should allow for assessment of: overall population trends and breeding success; the impact of wind turbulence and success of rehabilitation efforts; and the impact of IRPC and APSC.
- Statistical advice should be sought in the development of monitoring methodology.
- Historical Abbotts booby monitoring data should be upgraded and keyed for future reference.
- Loss of climatic habitat, including an increase in sea surface temperature, caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases is a potential threat to Abbotts booby and many other species. Management requires both domestic and international action, and is beyond this recovery plan.
- Abbotts booby are threatened by stochastic events such as storms and cyclones, which are atypical of the region, but there is no practical or feasible way to manage this process.
- Abbotts booby may face threats in the marine environment, including those associated with global warming, but poor knowledge of the species pelagic distribution limits identification of these threats and development of management responses.
- Interaction between Abbotts boobies and longline fishing gear has not been recorded. However, the potential for this to occur should not be discounted without observer studies of the development of any new fisheries in the waters adjacent to Christmas Island.
The threats identified as directly impacting on Abbotts booby (modification of breeding habitat, crazy ants) affect the Christmas Island National Park, which is described in Environment Australia (2002). The impact of global warming and other threats in the marine environment will affect the foraging areas of Abbotts booby, which have yet to be identified.
The Christmas Island population is the only extant population.