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NZ working to protect endangered albatrosses

New Zealand working other countries to protect endangered albatrosses and petrels

Members of an international treaty to protect southern hemisphere albatrosses and petrels have launched a three-year work plan to secure the seabirds’ future, at a meeting in Christchurch this week.

“Of the 28 species of albatross and petrel that are covered by the treaty, 18 are native to New Zealand but they spend much of their lives beyond our jurisdiction,” meeting chair Bill Mansfield of New Zealand said today.

“That’s why it is not enough for New Zealand to take conservation measures on its own – New Zealand needs the help of all other countries in southern temperate latitudes. The same is true for these other countries. As just one example, the Chatham albatross breeds here and is considered a native species in New Zealand. However it spends much of its life feeding in the Humboldt Current and is familiar to mariners off Ecuador, Peru and Chile.”

Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, France, the United States and the United Kingdom attended the second meeting of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.

Signatories to the agreement have agreed to tackle key threats to albatrosses and petrels, namely, animal pests at breeding sites, pollution including from eating plastic rubbish, and accidental capture in fishing operations.

Reports tabled at the meeting show that all of the albatrosses and petrels listed in the agreement are under threat. The status of these species ranges from “near threatened” to “critically endangered”.

Initiatives agreed to include completing a database of information covering the hundreds of seabird breeding sites and feeding areas, and sharing of information on pest control methods and ways of reducing fishing threats. This will help governments prioritise what needs to be done in each region to conserve these birds, and the methods available to do so, Mr Mansfield said.

“The fact that so many countries are part of this agreement is an excellent start to protecting albatrosses and petrels, many of which are endangered and are in decline” Mr Mansfield said. “The three-year work plan that has been agreed to will get all 10 member countries engaged in this task.”

Delegates at the meeting said that accidental capture in fishing operations was a key issue for seabird conservation in their countries. Member countries would also work with regional fisheries organisations on this issue.

ends

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