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Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment


7 December 1997

Australia has reinforced its position as one of the world's leading nations in Albatross conservation by protecting a total of 17 threatened species of the giant seabirds.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Senator Ian Macdonald, says the Howard Government has taken action to improve the survival chances of these Albatross species by including them on Australia's lists of nationally endangered and vulnerable species.

Senator Macdonald has made the announcement on Ocean Care Day, an annual event to mark the achievements of Australians working to conserve Australia's marine and coastal ecosystems.

"Albatrosses are highly migratory, flying thousands of kilometres across the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans but their populations have been declining to the point where fewer than 100 of the Amsterdam Albatross, for example, are thought to remain.

"Albatrosses are the slowest birds in the world to reach maturity. They do not usually breed until they are at least ten years old, and pair for life.

"The four Albatross species added to the list of nationally endangered wildlife are the Tristan Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Chatham Albatross and Amsterdam Albatross.

"Among the species added to the list of nationally vulnerable species are the Antipodean Albatross, Gibson's Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Buller's Albatross and Pacific Albatross.

"A major threat to these birds is their incidental capture during oceanic longline fishing when they get caught on baited hooks, on lines up to 150 kilometres long, and drown.

"The Government will continue to work closely with industry, conservationists and researchers to develop a Threat Abatement Plan to mitigate the impacts of longline fishing, and a draft plan will be released soon for public comment."

Earlier this year, the Federal Government successfully nominated 11 Albatross species to the Appendices of the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), giving the seabirds international protection.

* Photos or footage of Albatrosses are available from EA Public Affairs on 02 6250 0782.

Brad Robinson (Senator Macdonald's office) 0418 673 600
Bruce Male (Environment Australia) 02 6250 0766
7 December 1997

Commonwealth of Australia