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Southern Seabird Solutions Trust Welcomes Royal Patron

Media release

14 November 2012

Southern Seabird Solutions Trust Welcomes Royal Patron

Southern Seabird Solutions Trust is delighted the Prince Of Wales has agreed to become its patron, saying royal endorsement will greatly help efforts to reduce the numbers of seabirds killed or injured in the course of fishing each year.

The announcement coincides with Prince Charles’ visit to New Zealand with the Duchess of Cornwall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II.

“This is great news for the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust,” says Trust Chair Bill Mansfield. “Prince Charles’ involvement in environmental issues, including seabird conservation, is well known throughout the world. We are very honoured to have his support for the Trust’s work.”

The Trust is an innovative alliance of the New Zealand seafood industry, the New Zealand government, WWF-New Zealand and Te Ohu Kaimoana formed in 2002 to reduce fishing-related harm to seabirds. It works with fishers throughout the southern hemisphere to provide information and education about seabirds as well as best methods to keep seabirds away from fishing vessels.

In the past decade it has carried out a number of projects in countries including New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and South America. These include seabird-smart training workshops for New Zealand fishers, development of information resources, industry awards for good practice, and support for the development and testing of new fishing technologies with the potential to significantly minimise the risk to seabirds. The Trust has also organised skipper exchanges between southern hemisphere countries to encourage experts to share tips, techniques and insights.

Bill Mansfield says more species of seabirds breed in New Zealand than in any other country, including most of the world’s albatross, petrel, shag and penguin species. Of the 85 seabird species that breed here, 47 are considered threatened – and for albatrosses and petrels, the key threat is injury or death in fishing operations.

Seabirds have learnt to forage for food at the back of fishing vessels, which places them at risk of being caught on baited hooks or tangled in fishing gear.

“New Zealand’s significance as a breeding ground for seabirds means we need to take the lead in efforts to reduce seabird harm,” says Mr Mansfield. “Working in partnership to draw on a wide range of expertise and perspectives enables us to make a real difference.”

“We believe that having Prince Charles as our patron will significantly increase awareness in New Zealand of the importance of seabirds and the risks they face.”

Representatives from the Trust – including the winners of the Trust’s Seabird Smart Awards - will meet the Prince of Wales at a reception at Government House tomorrow. The Seabird Smart Awards were founded in 2005 to recognise and encourage those who reduce risks to seabirds.

ENDS


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