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NZ Heed call to action to stop albatross deaths

New Zealand should heed HRH Prince of Wales’ call to action to stop albatross slaughter

The Prince of Wales’ call to the world’s fishing industry and governments to get on with the job of halting the preventable slaughter of albatross and petrel, should be heeded by the New Zealand government and fishing industry, according to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

“The Prince has laid down a clear challenge to get on with the job of implementing the simple, inexpensive and very effective techniques which would save the lives of around 300,000 albatrosses and petrels that are killed worldwide every year in longline and trawl fisheries,” Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager, Kevin Hackwell said today.

“New Zealand is the albatross capital of the world with 14 of the world’s 21 species breeding in the New Zealand zone and with many now under global threat of extinction.” Mr Hackwell said. “However, it is estimated that around 10,000 albatrosses and petrels are killed in New Zealand waters each year by our longline and trawler fleets. Many more thousands are killed beyond New Zealand’s EEZ.”

“As the Prince of Wales has indicated, these deaths are avoidable. The technology to avoid these deaths is generally very simple and inexpensive to implement.” Mr Hackwell said.

“So this is not rocket science – it is basic fisheries management. We know what is needed:

• Bird scaring (‘Tori’) lines which keep birds away from hooks during line setting
• Line weighting to make hooks sink more quickly, making them inaccessible to seabirds
• Fishing at night when albatross are less active
• Ensuring that offal from fish processing is not discharged while lines are being fed out or retrieved
• Using thawed baits to ensure that they sink quickly
• Seasonal closures to delay fishing where seabirds are particularly active”

“These six simple techniques are incredibly effective at reducing albatross and petrel deaths, especially when used in combination. It is mandatory for New Zealand vessels to use a combination of these measures when fishing in Antarctic waters under the CCAMLR* agreement. But they are not mandatory in New Zealand waters right next door”

“It is frustrating that it is taking so long for these simple measures to be implemented, both in New Zealand and worldwide.” Mr Hackwell said.

“Government departments and the New Zealand fishing industry have resisted the mandatory use of mitigation methods and the setting of verifiable targets and timelines to slash seabird bykill.”

“The Prince of Wales is right when he says there is no excuse for not acting now.” Mr Hackwell said. “We hope that the New Zealand Government and fishing industry will take a world leadership role and take up the Prince’s challenge to establish verifiable targets and timelines to save these magnificent birds.”


The BirdLife partner in New Zealand, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, has been actively campaigning for the protection of albatross and petrels for many years. Last year over 100,000 people, from 131 countries signed a Birdlife International petition asking the United Nations to stop pirate fishing to save the albatross.

The petition was organised by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and was signed by the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, as well as New Zealand’s Conservation and Environment Ministers.

* CCAMLR is the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources

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