Hi everybody -
News Release below from BirdLife International for your information.
Yacht Race Teams support Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society's Save
the Albatross campaign
Auckland, New Zealand, 19 December 2002 -- Representatives of America's Cup
syndicates, Whitbread Round the World Race and Volvo Ocean Race today
pledged their support for the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of
New Zealand's (RFBPS) Save the Albatross campaign at a press conference
hosted by the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.
The campaign is part of a BirdLife International initiative to save the
world's threatened species of albatross and petrel from the threat of
extinction posed by longline fishing. BirdLife is a global alliance of
conservation groups present in over 100 countries. The RFBPS is the
BirdLife Affiliate in New Zealand. An estimated 300,000 seabirds drown on
longlines globally every year, of which more than 100,000 are albatrosses.
This scale of mortality poses a major extinction threat to 22 species of
seabirds, including 17 species of albatross.
Yachtsmen representing three teams - Kevin Shoebridge (OneWorld - USA),
Joan Vila (Alingi - Italy) and Mark Orams (Team New Zealand) - signed giant
postcards that will be sent to the New Zealand Minister of Fisheries and
diplomatic representatives of Japan, Taiwan, Australia, South Africa,
Spain, Chile and Argentina requesting that seabirds are 'kept off the
hook'. These countries either have longline fishing fleets or areas in
their exclusive economic zones that are important for albatross and petrels.
The albatross has long been an important symbol for yachtsmen and other
mariners. Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 18th Century poem, "Rime of the
Ancient Mariner", famously describes the curse associated with killing an
albatross. Sir Peter Blake commented that early in his ocean racing career
his boat would be surrounded by clouds of albatrosses in the Southern
Ocean. Towards the end of his career he commented that it was lucky to see
one or two.
"The Americas Cup, Whitbread and Volvo teams share Sir Peter Blake's great
concern for the plight of the world's seabirds, and are encouraged that
BirdLife International has launched a global campaign to save them," says
Dr Mark Orams of Team New Zealand and round the world ocean racer. "We wish
the Save the Albatross campaign every possible success in its efforts to
save these magnificent seabirds from extinction."
Seabird conservation is a major issue for New Zealand says RFBPS
Conservation Manager, Eric Pyle, speaking on behalf of BirdLife
International. "New Zealand has more endemic albatross and petrel species
than any other country which is why we are known as the seabird capital of
Some albatross and petrel species have declined by 90% over the last 60
years, mostly due to longline fishing. "Extinctions will occur unless there
are major changes to fisheries practices around the world, including in New
Zealand", says Mr Pyle.
"The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society is proud to be part of the
BirdLife International campaign to save the albatross" says Mr Pyle. "An
international approach is essential because these majestic birds breed and
fly huge distances between different parts of the world, so there are many
longline fisheries that pose a threat to their survival".
A key threat to seabirds is illegal longlining or 'pirate fishing' which
kills an estimated 100,000 birds in the Southern Ocean annually. Tougher
international measures are required to combat pirate fishing on the high
seas and ensure markets are closed to illegally caught fish.
"Over 10,000 albatrosses and petrels are killed annually in New Zealand
waters, and an estimated 300,000 are killed worldwide every year," says Mr
Pyle. "The global death toll of albatross and petrel is completely
unacceptable," he said.
"Efforts by some fishing boats show that it is possible to reduce seabird
by-catch to very low levels", said Mr Pyle. The Chartered Japanese Tuna
Boats fishing in New Zealand waters have reduced seabird by catch from
4,000 birds in 1990 to just 12 birds in 2001. "The techniques used are not
exactly rocket science. They involved some simple techniques and careful
management", said Mr Pyle.
Many New Zealand boats have been slow to follow suit and are not required
to adopt the same measures in New Zealand waters required of Japanese
boats. For example, in 2001 a single New Zealand fishing boat killed over
300 seabirds in a month-long fishing trip
The RFBPS has also called on the New Zealand Government to develop an
effective national plan of action to combat seabird by-catch in New Zealand
waters. This plan must as a minimum adopt international best practice
The RFBPS has launched a new web presentation about its campaign at:
The BirdLife International Save the Albatross campaign web pages can also
be viewed at:
Related photographs of albatrosses are available for one-off media use via:
Photographs from the event in Auckland will be posted on the same site once
Save the Albatross campaign goal
The goal of the Save the Albatross campaign in New Zealand is to eliminate
seabird by-catch. This goal is achievable. For example, New Zealand vessels
fishing for toothfish in the Ross Sea have not caught an albatross or
petrel on their longlines in 3 years.
To achieve this goal the following methods need to be implemented:
· All longline fishing boats in New Zealand waters must adopt international
'best practice' measures to reduce seabird by-catch including avoiding
certain areas at certain times of the year, night setting, weighted hooks
and the use of 'tori' or bird-scaring lines and preventing discharge of
· 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 by-catch 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.
· 100% Observer coverage in all longline fisheries to ensure that
mitigation measures are used and that the number and species caught is
Landmark achievements in the Birdlife International campaign
1998: Technical Review by BirdLife for United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) of longline fisheries worldwide, as part of the basis
for the FAO's International Plan of Action.
1999-2001: BirdLife helped to shape the international Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) under the Bonn Convention on
Migratory Species. 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 which was adopted
by FAO in 2001.
2001: BirdLife hosted a workshop in Uruguay promoting solutions to the
problem in South America.
2002: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a reception on behalf
of BirdLife International's Save the Albatross campaign at St James's
Ongoing: BirdLife Partner organisations around the world are campaigning in
key countries and advising governments on seabird regulations and training
curricula for fishers and scientific observers.
Which species are affected?
The majority of albatross species and many petrel and other seabird species
are caught in longline operations and are in grave danger of extinction.
The majority of these species are found in the Southern Ocean. New Zealand
is especially important for breeding albatross species.
New Zealand: Twelve breeding albatross species (more than any other
country): Chatham Albatross, Antipodean Albatross , Northern Royal
Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Campbell Albatross, Buller's
Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Salvin's Albatross,
Black-browed Albatross, Shy Albatross and Light-mantled Albatross.
Albatross species present in New Zealand threatened by longline fishing:
Species World Population (individual 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 seabird species present in New Zealand threatened by longline fishing:
Species World Population (individual 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
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List criteria for globally
threatened species are: Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high
risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future), Endangered (facing
a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future), and
Vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term).
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