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Safeguarding Petrels And Albatrosses

Government To Consult Over Safeguarding Petrels And Albatrosses

New Zealand has welcomed an international agreement to minimise the harm to one of the world's most threatened bird groups, petrels and albatrosses, caused by activities like commercial fishing practices.

The Minister of Conservation, Hon Sandra Lee, said urgent action was required to prevent looming extinction of some of the species as thousands of petrels and albatrosses were being killed each year in Southern Ocean long line fisheries.

Ms Lee said the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels agreement contained legally binding obligations to conserve habitats, eliminate detrimental non-native species, and develop and implement measures to prevent or mitigate the adverse effects of activities including fishing techniques that imperilled seabirds.

"Nearly half the 28 species of seabird to be managed under the agreement are native to New Zealand," Ms Lee said.

"It is one of my priorities as Minister of Conservation to help bring an end to the unintentional killing of endangered seabirds in the waters around New Zealand and in the Southern Ocean."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hon Phil Goff, said the text of the agreement was adopted by consensus recently in South Africa and would enter into force once five States had ratified it.

He said all the states with interests in migratory bird species were present and active in the negotiations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Norway, South Africa, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as New Zealand.

"The government will be consulting with the appropriate groups including Maori with a view to New Zealand ratifying the agreement at an early stage," Mr Goff said.

"The agreement's Action Plan provides a robust basis for concerted international action which is required because many of these seabirds migrate to other countries' coastal waters where they are at risk," he said.

"Albatrosses have wandered the roaring winds of the Southern Oceans for millions of years," said Conservation Minister Sandra Lee.

"For these great birds to survive, we need to find protection methods and ways of catching fish without catching seabirds as well. This should not be an impossible challenge for the fishing industry and for scientists to solve."

Ends

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