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Albatross once again losers at international tuna meeting

Humane Society International is today speaking out in condemnation of the lack of conservation measures for albatross agreed at the recent meeting of Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)*. The outcomes of last week's meeting were only made public today.

Humane Society International attended the meeting highlighting the urgent need to protect albatross and petrels from longline hooks in southern bluefin tuna fisheries, and hoped a resolution put forward at the meeting by the European Union and New Zealand would help correct a longstanding problem within CCSBT and provide a long overdue reprieve for these imperilled seabirds. Humane Society International estimates 15,000 albatross and petrels are hooked and drown on baited longlines every year. CCSBT could not reach an agreement to take responsibility for implementing proven measures to prevent albatross deaths, like weighting lines so that they sink fast out of the reach of seabirds and setting lines at night when less birds are foraging.

"The outcomes of this meeting held much promise and we are extremely disappointed that the binding measure agreed will not enable the CCSBT compliance committee to monitor and enforce compliance with seabird bycatch mitigation measures,” said Alexia Wellbelove, Humane Society International's Senior Program Manager. "The resolution agreed only requires toothless reporting with no consequences for non-compliance. Humane Society International fears this will frustrate attempts to drive real change in tuna fisheries to reduce interactions with Ecologically Related Species like the albatross.”

"CCSBT is the tuna RFMO with the highest overlap with threatened seabirds, and so has the greatest responsibility to take strong effective action to reduce seabird mortality,” continued Ms Wellbelove. "Today we've not moved any closer to making that a reality, in fact it could be argued we've moved backwards. With some albatross populations likely to be functionally extinct within ten years if current rates of decline are not turned around, we really need to be taking every opportunity we have, not condemning these iconic seabirds to possible extinction.”

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