The black-faced cormorant, Phalacrocorax fuscescens, is a brood-reducing seabird endemic to the southern waters of Australia. Microsatellite loci were isolated from genomic DNA using 454 shotgun sequencing. Thirty-one loci were tested and, of these, 16 were found to be polymorphic. Further characterisation was conducted on seven loci that were genotyped in 42 adult individuals from a single breeding colony in South Australia. The number of alleles per locus ranged from three to eight (s.d.±2.16), and the mean observed and expected heterozygosity was 0.66 (s.d.±0.249) and 0.62 (s.d.±0.178) respectively. We confirm that four loci conformed to Hardy-Weinberg expectations. Four other Phalacrocorax species were trialled for amplification of these four polymorphic loci. Amplification success varied between loci and species. These loci will be useful in determining genetic family structure and exploring nestling relatedness to further understand how relatedness influences competitive behaviours in brood-reducing species.