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Yachties Support Albatross Conservation

Yachties Support Albatross Conservation

Media representatives are invited to a significant event hosted by Forest and Bird as part of the International Campaign to save the albatross from extinction. BirdLife International is coordinating the International Campaign. Forest and Bird is BirdLife’s New Zealand representative.

Forest and Bird will present large “Save the albatross” postcards to representatives from the embassies of southern ocean and nations with longlining fleets. The postcards have been signed by representatives from Americas Cup Teams.

Time and Location

Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, Oriental Bay, Wellington, Tuesday 18th March, 5.30 PM

The issue

Albatross and petrel conservation is a huge issue for New Zealand. “We have more endemic albatross and petrel species than any other country”, says Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager, Eric Pyle. “Many New Zealand albatross and petrel species are doomed to extinction unless there are major changes to fisheries practices around the world.”

Well over 300,000 seabirds are caught around the world each year and around 10,000 in New Zealand waters, mostly due to longline fishing. There are a range of measures for reducing seabird deaths from longlining operations. These include; Tori or bird lines and night setting, using weighted hooks, not dumping of offal while longlines are set.

“Albatross and petrel by-catch can be avoided”, says Mr. Pyle. “Japanese tuna boats operating in New Zealand waters have reduced seabird by-catch from 4,000 per year to just 12 last year. This shows that eliminating seabird by catch is possible”.

Around 10,000 seabirds are killed in New Zealand waters each year. “This level of by-catch is unacceptable”, says Mr. Pyle. “New Zealand is not setting a world-leading example. We hope that the New Zealand Government will act by putting in place an effective National Plan of Action to reduce seabird by catch”. The draft New Zealand National Plan of Action is due for release in the next few weeks.

Birdlife is calling on countries to prepare National Plans of Action on seabird captures in fisheries as agreed by the UN FAO and ratify the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels (ACAP). Australia, New Zealand, and Ecuador have ratified the agreement and South Africa is in the process of ratifying the agreement.

Attached are: Statements from governments of countries invited to this event Background on the International Save the Albatross Campaign

For more information please see http:// or http://
Statements from Governments

Statement from the British Government The UK is committed to petrel and albatross conservation. The UK participated in the negotiation meetings in Hobart (July 2000) and Cape Town (January 2001) of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). The UK signed ACAP in July 2001 and is in the process of ratifying the Agreement. We congratulate Australia, New Zealand and Ecuador who have already ratified the Agreement. While the UK has minimal shipping and fishing interests in the Southern Oceans, British Overseas Territories host important habitat and breeding sites. The UK ratification of the Agreement will be extended to the British Antarctic Territory and in due course to the territories of Tristan da Cunha, The Falklands, South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands.

Statement from the Chilean Government Chile supports the efforts of conservation of albatrosses and petrels. The Embassy of Chile in New Zealand welcomes the initiative undertaken by the Royal Forest and Bird Society in order to raise awareness of the conservation of seabirds such as albatross and petrels. Chile, as a country of 4000 km of coastline in South America and as founding member of the Antarctic Treaty, has a firm commitment to the conservation of marine resources, and the sustainable use of those resources. Scientific research has indicated that the catch effort of Chilean vessels has a low impact in the population of albatross and petrels. Nevertheless, Chile has supported the international efforts to the establishment of measures for the conservation of the species. For this reason, Chile signed in 2001 the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels and is in the process of ratification of this important instrument. Besides its active participation in these efforts, Chile is also a member of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. That organization has also addressed the problem of by - catch of coastal birds, and Chile has fully incorporated the measures of conservation agreed to minimize damages to the existing populations of albatrosses and petrels.

Statement from the Argentinean Government The incidental mortality of albatrosses and petrels by longline fishing vessels operating in Argentine waters has been a cause of concern for the past years. Argentina has participated in the negotiation of the final text of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) and is now completing the informal consultations in order to join the Agreement. The estimation of seabird mortality given by different studies indicates that between 4000 and 14000 birds were killed in the Patagonian shelf between 1994 and mid 1995. Studies indicate that rough estimations of incidental animal mortality along the Patagonian shelf is in the order of thousands of birds (more than 10000 seabirds) by interaction with longliners between 1999 and 2001. The Black-browed Albatross and White-chinned Petrel were the most affected species found in the reports accounting for more than 55% and 20% respectively of total captures. Recently the Federal Fishery Council in Argentina recommended to the National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP) the quantification through the Observers Program of the incidental mortality of seabirds together with marine mammals and sea turtles during commercial fishing operations (resolution 03/01). This quantification is currently carried out with the assistance of National Universities and Government Organizations in Argentina. Among the local needs related to the conservation of albatrosses and petrels and the reduction of incidental mortality, the following points should be addressed in the near future: Give priority and continuity to the Observers Program Provide legal support to resolution 03/01 Update and extend the educational material provided to observers and fishermen emphasising the importance of incidental capture data and the consequent benefits of more profitable fisheries. The information provided in this study allows the design and future implementation of mitigation measures and new survey methods onboard longliners operating in Atlantic waters off the Argentine shelf.

Statement from the French Government CONSERVATION OF ALBATROSS AND PETRELS: FRANCE IS COMMITTED France, member of many international bodies dealing with environmental conservation, having thousands of kilometres of shores and sponsoring national associations, is deeply committed to protecting birds, in particular sea birds. In 2001, it signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels. Its longstanding commitment to protecting endangered bird species is focused on the Arctic and Austral Ocean (Crozet, Kerguelen, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands). Significant work has been carried out on the framework of co-operation between the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) and the administration of the French Austral and Antarctic Territories (TAAF). An ongoing programme is to provide a comprehensive study on accidental bird mortality due to fishing. Besides strong enforcement by police at sea and heavy fines against unauthorised fishing, France is implementing strict regulations for authorised fishing in its TAAF, promoting protection of fishing resources and seabirds like albatross and petrels. Banners must be used to deter seabirds from coming close to boats. Lines must also be thrown out at night to avoid attracting birds. In order to enforce these measures, recommended by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCMLR), France established, as early as 1978, a surveillance programme whereby a "controller-observer-scientist" is onboard each authorised fishing vessel. Innovative at the time, this programme is today integrated into the CCMLR, of which France is a member. First to have made the link between longline fishing and the decline of albatross, France is also the country with the biggest surveillance fleet, from its national Navy, to criss-cross its EEZ, chasing offenders.

Statement from the Australian Government Australia plays a leading role in conserving Southern Hemisphere albatrosses and petrels using a three-pronged approach to seabird conservation. It assesses the conservation status of seabirds and listing threatened species under relevant State and Commonwealth legislation; identifies threats to seabirds and developing national threat abatement plans; and facilitates cooperative international action to complement domestic conservation actions. 19 of the 23 albatrosses and giant petrel species in Australia are legally listed as threatened. On-ground protection is provided for all 23 species through a Recovery Plan, which was introduced in 2001. In 1997, Australia took the lead in developing the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, which is the first integrated and holistic approach to albatross and petrel conservation throughout the Southern Hemisphere. It contains guidelines to better coordinate conservation efforts on land and at sea. The Agreement also provides a central point for the collection and analysis of data which will be used to develop a comprehensive record of albatross and petrel populations globally. Australia and New Zealand have led the way by ratifying the Agreement, which requires the ratification of five countries to come into force. Ecuador recently became the third country to do so. Australia urges all states and fishing nations that interact with albatrosses and petrels to modify activities carried out in the southern ocean that affect the existence of these birds and to ratify the Agreement.

Statement from the Japanese Government

Japan's National Plan of Action for reducing incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries (February 2001)

Introduction (basic principle and objective)

Japan, as a responsible fishing nation, is fully supportive of the view that fisheries activities have an important role in the supply of food to mankind. Japan duly respects:

The awareness of the international society that fisheries are an important industry having the function to ensure social and economic welfare of the people around the world (Kyoto Declaration on Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security and its Action Plan); The international agreements that states commit themselves to the conservation and sustainable use of marine living resources (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21; and The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that calls for promotion of contribution of fisheries to food security.

On the other hand, Japan shares the concerns about the impact of incidental catch of seabirds by various types of longline fishing used by many nations. Japan intends to analyze the impact of Japanese longline fishing on seabirds objectively and scientifically in order to minimize incidental catch of seabirds. As represented by the effort of Japanese fishers to develop streaming devices (Tori-pole/streamer) in order to avoid catch of seabirds in line setting, Japan will continue developing an internationally agreed implementation standard based on voluntary initiatives by fishers for solution of the issue. The Government of Japan, for its part, will continue guidance to Japanese longline fishers regarding specific measures to minimize incidental catch of seabirds. Further, it will promote research and development, as well as guidance, extension and educational activities to cope effectively with the issue. With a view to achieve the above goals, the Government of Japan has established this Action Plan.

Statement from the Korean Government Recent research by the Korean Ministry of Environment indicates that Korea now has about 420 species of wild birds including migratory birds. Korea, which had a bitter experience of environmental degradation during its rapid industrialization in 60s, 70s and 80s, is now a country where biodiversity is recovering due to the implementation of a national agenda for sustainable development combined with regional and international cooperation.

No statement provided from the South African Government

The International Campaign to Save the Albatross

The overall Save the Albatross campaign target is to virtually eliminate seabird bycatch. Forest and Bird’s goals for the albatross campaign is the virtual elimination of seabird by-catch. This goal is achieveable. For example, New Zealand vessels fishing for toothfish in the Ross Sean have not caught an albatross or petrel on longlines in 3 years.

To achieve these goals the following methods need to be implemented:

All longline fishing boats in New Zealand waters must adopt international 'best practice' measures to reduce seabird bycatch including avoiding certain areas at certain times of the year, night setting, weighted hooks and the use of tori lines and preventing discharge of offal. Limits on seabird numbers caught which are reduced towards zero over several years. When these limits are exceeded the fishery is closed. Creation of closed areas or marine reserves over parts of the ocean where seabirds congregate and areas where bycatch has been high in the past. All threatened albatross and petrel species need to be listed as threatened species under the New Zealand Wildlife Act. Observer coverage in all longline fisheries to ensure that mitigation measures are used and that the number and species caught is identified.

Key achievements in the Birdlife International Campaign to date 1998: Technical Review by BirdLife for UN-FAO of longline fisheries worldwide, as part of the basis for the FAO's International Plan of Action (IPOA-Seabirds).

1999-2001: BirdLife helped to shape the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) under the Bonn Convention. ACAP was opened for signature in June 2001.

2000-2001: BirdLife influenced an FAO International Plan of Action on Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported or 'pirate' fishing (adopted by FAO in 2001).

2000-2001: Developing a Global Environment Facility (World Bank) application to promote seabird-friendly longline fishing in developing southern hemisphere countries.

2001: Hosted workshop in Uruguay to promote solutions to the seabird by-catch problem in South America.

Ongoing: BirdLife Partners around the world are advising and assisted governments in drafting seabird regulations and training curricula for fishers and scientific observers.

Which species are affected? The majority of albatross species and several petrel and other seabird species are affected by longlining and are in grave danger of extinction. The majority of these species are found in the Southern Ocean. Some key nations and territories are especially important for breeding albatross species and are listed below.

New Zealand: Twelve breeding albatross species, more than any other country: Chatham, Antipodean, Northern Royal, Southern Royal, Campbell, Buller's, Wandering, Grey-headed, Salvin's, Black-browed, Shy and Light-mantled

New Zealand Albatross species threatened by longlining
Species World Population(birds)
Chatham Albatross 10,000-11,000
Antipodean Albatross 40,000
Northern Royal Albatross 13,000
Wandering Albatross 28,000
Southern Royal Albatross 28,000
Salvin's Albatross 62,700
Buller's Albatross 58,000
Grey-headed Albatross 250,000
Campbell Albatross 38,000-52,000
Sooty Albatross 42,000
Black browed albatross 6,000,000
Other New Zealand seabird species threatened by longlining
Species World Population(birds)
Hutton's Shearwater 188,000
Southern Giant-petrel 62,000

White-chinned Petrel 5,000,000
Black Petrel 5,000
Westland Petrel 20,000
Buller's Shearwater 2,500,000

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