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Decisive action to save albatross welcomed

6 May 2005 - Wellington

Decisive action to save albatross welcomed

Forest and Bird today welcomed the Government's unprecedented action in re-calling the bulk of New Zealand's squid fishing fleet back to port to prevent further albatross and other seabird deaths.

"The squid fishery has been sin-binned and deservedly so," said Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

"Forest and Bird welcomes Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope's decisive action. His action vindicates the stand that Forest and Bird has taken on this issue," he said.

"Nineteen of twenty one species of albatross are threatened with extinction. We can't afford to lose any more of these majestic birds, especially when New Zealand is the albatross capital of the world," he said.

In a letter sent today to David Benson-Pope, Forest and Bird thanked him for the Government's decisive action. The letter asks him to write mandatory codes of practice on reducing seabird bycatch for other fisheries if the industry cannot get its own voluntary codes of practice adopted by June. Officials and the fishing industry have missed all the deadlines set by the Government's National Plan of Action to reduce seabird bycatch.

"We have also asked the Government to deploy an Orion to check whether other fishing vessels are using the seabird bycatch mitigation measures set out in the draft codes of practice produced to date," Mr Hackwell said.

Notes

Forest and Bird has been at the forefront of the international campaign to "Save the Albatross" with Partner organisations around the globe, coordinated by BirdLife International. HRH The Prince of Wales recently visited New Zealand and congratulated Forest and Bird for the work it is doing to save the albatross.

Forest and Bird is represented on the National Plan of Action to reduce seabird bycatch Technical Working Group.

As the Prince of Wales indicated in his recent Dunedin speech, seabird deaths caused by fishing vessels are largely avoidable. The technology to prevent these deaths is generally very simple and inexpensive to implement.

Speaking about seabird bycatch mitigation measures, The Prince of Wales said in his recent speech, "... the real challenge is to make these solutions mandatory... ".

ENDS

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