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Albatross Protection One Step Closer

WWF hopes New Zealand’s signing of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) in Canberra today heralds a stronger stance on seabird protection by the government.

New Zealand is the albatross capital of the world – 13 out of a total 24 albatross species breed in our waters, and almost all of those are vulnerable or endangered (IUCN ranking).

“Long line fisheries are widely believed to be the major cause of falling albatross populations”, explained WWF New Zealand’s chief executive, Jo Breese.

“At the moment, the government is doing little more than research into albatross decline. WWF believes the steady drop in many albatross populations warrants stronger action.”

“Importantly, the ACAP urges governments to take the ‘precautionary approach’ – which means not waiting for further research before acting to protect albatrosses and petrels.”

“We urge the government to strengthen its national plan of action to at least include simple mitigation measures such as requiring boats to set at night, and to discharge ship’s waste away from setting and hauling”, said Jo Breese. “We also support the government’s move to place more observers on fishing boats.”

“New Zealand is fortunate to be home to so many albatrosses, we need to take a lead in protecting them.”


Image by Graham Robertson, Australia Antarctic Division

ENDS

Background:
- The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels has been two years in the making, including consultation between Southern Ocean governments, governments of major fisheries nations, NGOs, and the United Nations. It is hoped that all the governments of major fisheries nations will sign it.
- In the Southern Ocean, tuna fleets alone set more than 200 million hooks annually. There are similar sized fleets in other fisheries as well.
- New Zealand-based albatross species which are especially at risk of bycatch are: White-capped, buller’s and Salvin’s albatrosses.
- Some of the main longline fisheries in which seabird bycatch occurs are: Patagonian toothfish, tuna, and ling.
- The oldest albatross in the world, aged 66, is still alive.
- The Wandering albatross has a wingspan of 3.5 metres, making it the largest flying bird in the world.
- Albatrosses have the highest proportion of threatened species of any bird family, making them the most imperiled of all the world’s seabirds.

Ends

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