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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

19 June 2001


An historic international Agreement was signed today by Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill, committing Australia to an international effort to protect albatrosses and petrels.

Senator Hill said the Agreement, also signed by ambassadors and high commissioners from Brazil, Chile, France, New Zealand, Peru and the United Kingdom, marks a major step in the fight to protect these migratory seabirds.

"This Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels is designed to provide countries from around the world with the information and techniques vital to protect these magnificent but severely threatened birds," Senator Hill said.

"A number of other countries are expected to also sign this Agreement, which seeks to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for albatrosses and petrels, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere."

Australia initiated the Agreement in 1997 and is pleased to now see so many countries joining forces to protect albatrosses and petrels.

"This is the first international Agreement to clearly focus on an integrated and holistic approach to albatross and petrel conservation. It contains guidelines for albatross and petrel conservation throughout the Southern Hemisphere to better coordinate conservation actions on land and at sea," Senator Hill said.

Senator Hill said the Agreement would also provide a central point for the collection and analysis of data, allowing for a complete picture to be built of albatross and petrel populations globally, including what is happening to our breeding birds when they are travelling outside Australian waters.

The Agreement also establishes an international advisory committee to report annually on the status, progress and techniques used to mitigate threats to albatrosses and petrels and to protect albatross and petrel habitats.

"Scientists estimate about one quarter of a million seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels, have died in the last three years as a result of fishing practices from Southern Hemisphere countries," Senator Hill said.

"Many other birds can not breed successfully because their breeding sites are threatened by habitat disturbance. The birds' foraging opportunities are also threatened by marine pollution and plastic ingestion.

"It has become abundantly clear the rate of mortality cannot be sustained, and that, for some of the albatrosses in particular, extinction is a real and looming threat.

"This international Agreement, which falls under the Bonn Convention, is a major commitment by the participating countries to solve the plight of these truly remarkable seabirds.

"I congratulate the countries which have signed, and which are planning to sign this historic Agreement. I am also particularly proud of the lead role Australia has played in progressing the Agreement over recent years."

Tuesday, 19 June, 2001

Media Contact: Belinda Huppatz on (02) 6277 7640(02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia