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

Australia Leads Albatross Conservation


16 April 1997
(35/97)

In a major breakthrough for Australia, the Howard Government has succeeded in listing 11 species of albatross under a key global convention for protecting migratory animals.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says Australia's successful nomination of the giant seabirds to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, or Bonn Convention, is a significant achievement.

Australia's nomination, lodged by Senator Hill in November 1996, has been accepted at a biennial Conference of the Parties to the Bonn Convention in Geneva, Switzerland.

"This win for Australia means the 11 albatross species which occur in the Southern Hemisphere, seven of which are at risk of extinction, will now have greater protection.

"The support for Australia's nomination places this nation at the forefront of international efforts to address the decline of some of the world's rarest seabird species, including the critically endangered Amsterdam Albatross, of which fewer than 100 birds remain.

"The listing is an important starting point for developing global cooperation to conserve the 11 species wherever they travel.

"In particular, the listing will provide a mechanism for Southern Hemisphere countries, linked by the great southern oceans, to work together to conserve the species."

The 11 species are the Amsterdam Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Waved Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Buller's Albatross, Shy Albatross, Yellow-nosed Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Sooty Albatross and Light-mantled Albatross.

"Albatrosses are highly migratory, flying thousands of kilometres across the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Albatrosses mate for life and cannot reproduce until 10 to 12 years of age when the females lay just one egg each year or two years.

"The incidental capture of seabirds in longline fishing is included as a key threatening process under the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992, and the Government is working with the fishing industry, conservationists and researchers to develop a Threat Abatement Plan to mitigate the impacts of longline fishing.

"Some longlines are 150 kilometres long and carry up to 3000 baited hooks which albatrosses can get caught on and drown as they attempt to take the bait."

Contact: Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 06 277 7640 or 0419 693 515

Jim Crennan (Environment Australia) 06 250 0240 or 06 250 0766

Commonwealth of Australia