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Greater Protection For Petrels And Albatrosses

New Zealand will sign today (1pm NZ time) an international agreement to protect petrels and albatrosses in what the Foreign Affairs and Conservation Ministers describe as "an important advance for seabird conservation".

Foreign Minister Phil Goff said the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels agreement will be signed by representatives of New Zealand and Australia at a formal ceremony in Canberra. The agreement was developed under the Convention on Migratory Species, which is now in force in 73 countries.

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said the agreement contained legally binding obligations to safeguard the seabirds by conserving their habitats and developing ways to catch fish without catching the seabirds as well.

“Worldwide, urgent action on the part of scientists and the fishing industry is required because some species of these birds are now threatened with extinction," Ms Lee said.

"They are being caught on longlines in several commercial fisheries, they are menaced by alien predators and in some places their habitats are being ruined by development of recreational facilities."

The Foreign Minister said the international agreement will allow better conservation, monitoring and information sharing among signatories.

“Other countries with interests in petrels and albatrosses have helped develop this agreement and are also expected to sign up, " Mr Goff said.

"We want all countries fortunate enough to have these magnificent birds visiting their territories to sign up, " Ms Lee said. "The greater the global area covered by this agreement, the more effective it will be."

Ms Lee said New Zealand’s fishing industry, iwi, conservation groups and other agencies were consulted prior to the Government’s decision to sign the agreement.

“New Zealand involvement was crucial to this initiative, given that nearly half the 28 albatross and petrel species managed under the agreement breed in this country," she said.

"As Minister of Conservation, it is one of my priorities to help bring an end to the unintentional killing of seabirds on long-lines in the waters around New Zealand and in the Southern Ocean.”

Mr Goff thanked Australia for its role in gaining international support for seabird conservation. Our High Commissioner to Australia, Simon Murdoch, was due to sign the agreement on behalf of the New Zealand government in Canberra.

Ends

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