Historically, populations were greatly reduced by feather and egg collecting in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and by high seas drift nets for squid and salmon that were active between 1978 and 1992. Prior to its closure, the high seas driftnet fishery killed over 17,500 P. immutabilis in 1990 alone3. Current key threats are being caught as bycatch in pelagic6 and demersal longline fisheries7 in the North Pacific as well as in illegal high seas driftnet operations. Analyses in 2001 estimated that pelagic longliners in the North Pacific may kill 5,000-18,000 Laysan Albatross per year, with 8,000 thought the most likely figure, while demersal longline operations in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries were estimated to kill c.715 birds per year6. However, more recent estimates indicate a drastic reduction in bycatch from previous years (83 birds estimated taken in 2005) that is very likely attributable to the use of effective seabird avoidance measures12. The bycatch rates in Japanese and Taiwanese pelagic longline fisheries in the North Pacific are still largely unknown. Other threats include organochlorine contamination, invasive species, plastic ingestion, lead poisoning, human disturbance and conflicts with aircraft2,4,11.,17. Oil pollution is no longer considered a likely threat27. Up to 10,000 chicks per year are potentially affected by lead poisoning from paint on buildings at Midway Atoll 17. Avian pox virus affects chicks on Midway and the Main Hawaiian Islands where introduced mosquitoes are present, but studies on O'ahu colonies show that fledging success was not reduced24. Dogs kill adults and chicks on inhabited islands in Hawaii. Verbesina encelioides is an aggressive weed that degrades nesting habitat in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and introduced predators (notably the Polynesian Rat Rattus exulans25) are an issue for colonies in Mexico and on the Main Hawaiian Islands.
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