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Work On Threatened Seabird Species Axed

The Forest and Bird Protection Society criticised the decision of the Minister of Conservation not to proceed with research on grey petrels, the species caught in greatest numbers by tuna longline boats.

Society spokesperson, Barry Weeber, said we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the biology of grey petrels.

"Te Papa Museum bird biologists estimate that over 15,000 female grey petrels have been killed in the last 25 years from tuna longline vessels. The total population is only 60,000 birds."

"The species is coming under enormous pressure and could be headed towards extinction."

Mr Weeber said grey petrels breed in winter on the Antipodes Islands and are caught in longlines at this time of the year off East Cape.

"There are just two key breeding populations of grey petrel one on Antipodes Islands and the other on Gough Island in the South Atlantic."

Mr Weeber said neither of these populations is being monitored to assess the birds' biology and population trends and both populations are suffering from deaths in longline fisheries.

"The Minister's decision came at a bad time for albatross and petrels as the Minister of Fisheries was also refusing to take effective action to reduce seabird deaths in longline fisheries," said Mr Weeber.

ENDS

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