A critically endangered northern hemisphere petrel species will be better protected after a recent international conservation meeting.

The fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) agreed to include the critically endangered Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) on the list of birds protected by the Agreement.

This will mean the species will be closely monitored and measures to stop its further decline implemented, including improving breeding habitats, removing introduced pests, reducing human disturbance and actions to avoid or reduce injuries and mortalities caused by interactions with fishing operations.

The Balearic shearwater is found predominantly in the western Mediterranean region and breeds on the Balearic Islands, but it’s also been sighted around the UK, off the southern tip of Norway and western Europe’s coastline.

Australian Antarctic Division Senior Policy Advisor, Ian Hay, who represented Australia at the meeting in Peru, said the shearwater joins seven other species of petrels and all 22 of the world’s albatross species already listed under the Agreement.

“Albatrosses and petrels are the most endangered group of seabirds for a range of reasons, including the impact of invasive species at nesting sites and mortalities from interactions with commercial fishing,” Ian Hay said.

“It’s estimated around 300,000 seabirds are killed annually by fisheries, including many ACAP-listed species.

“There are now 30 species listed under ACAP; 5 are listed as Critically Endangered, 6 as Endangered, 12 as Vulnerable and 7 as Near Threatened,” he said.

The meeting also approved an increase in the Agreement’s tri-ennial budget and adopted a comprehensive work program for 2013–2015, which includes further measures to reduce the impact of invasive pests at breeding sites and to improve the implementation of procedures to avoid or reduce bycatch of seabirds in global fisheries.

The objective of ACAP is to restore the conservation status of the listed species to a favourable status.