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WWF Welcomes Albatross Agreement

This week, WWF welcomed the completion of a global agreement on the protection of albatross and petrels from fisheries bycatch. The agreement, developed under the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species in Germany, is the work of a number of representatives from around the world.

The agreement, which includes an action plan, sets out a number of conservation measures to be implemented by the signatories. These measures include the reduction of fisheries bycatch (incidental capture and drowning of species), the eradication of introduced predators at breeding sites, the reduction of disturbance and habitat loss, reducing pollution, and monitoring and researching.

WWF-New Zealand Conservation Director Eric Pyle says that the agreement is particularly important to New Zealand, as New Zealand has the highest number of native albatross and petrel species of any country.

“We are the albatross capital of the world,” says Mr Pyle, “but many of our native albatross species face extinction due to drowning in fishing operations.” At-risk species include the Royal Albatross that nests at Tairoa Head near Dunedin.

Mr Pyle also says that WWF is particularly pleased to see the agreement focuses on fisheries bycatch which is considered to be one of the major factors in a significant decline in albatross and other sea bird species throughout the world. “The current statistics are alarming. In the last 60 years numbers of albatross at some New Zealand colonies have declined by 90%,” says Mr Pyle. “This is a really positive step towards saving these species from extinction.”

Mr Pyle congratulates the New Zealand Government for taking a strong stance in the negotiations.

Mr Pyle says that although the agreement is positive, the benefit for these species is dependent on its successful implementation. “All countries with fishing fleets operating in the Southern Ocean need to abide by this agreement” he says. “Implementing this agreement will require concerted effort by Governments, industry and environmental groups in Southern Hemisphere, Asian and European countries.”

WWF urges Governments to implement the agreement immediately, without waiting until it has been formally ratified by the requisite number of countries.

For further information contact Anna Thomson, Communications Manager, Tel: 04 499 2930, email anna.thomson@wwf.org.nz.


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