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An exciting day for seabird conservation!

November 11, 2003 – Wellington
MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

An exciting day for seabird conservation!

Forest and Bird today welcomed South Africa’s adoption of an international treaty to protect albatross and petrels. The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) now has enough signatures to come into force.

“Albatross conservation is important to New Zealanders. We are the albatross capital of the world and New Zealanders have a strong affinity with the ocean,” Forest and Bird’s senior researcher Barry Weeber said.

“This treaty is needed more than ever. Recently, a number of albatross species were re-assessed and found to be in greater danger of going extinct than first realised. The rarest albatross could be extinct within a decade. Unacceptable and unnecessarily destructive long-line fishing methods are the main reason,” he said.

“ACAP assists countries like New Zealand and South Africa to implement a range of measures to protect threatened albatross. These measures include reducing by-catch from long-ling fishing, protecting albatross from pests, protecting albatross habitats and support research,” he said.

The Republic of South Africa yesterday ratified ACAP at a ceremony at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

The Republic of South Africa is the fifth country to become a party, meeting the threshold for ACAP's entry into force, which will now occur on the 1st February 2004. South Africa joins Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador and Spain as a party to ACAP.

“South Africa played a key role in the negotiation of ACAP and is home to many important populations of albatrosses and petrels, including those on the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands,” Mr. Weeber said.

“Albatrosses and petrels may be the most threatened group of birds in the world. 83% of the world's 24 species of albatross are considered to be endangered, which compares with 11% of bird species overall. There are so few Amsterdam Albatross left that they are recognized as critically endangered,” he said.

“Because albatross travel the globe, concerted action around the Southern Oceans is vital if albatross are to survive. It’s not enough for good conservation work in New Zealand. Fishing practices around the globe need to dramatically improve if albatross are to stand a chance of surviving the 21st century,” he said.

“New Zealand will need to review its draft National Plan of Action on Seabirds to see if it complies with ACAP,” he said.

ENDS

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