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

21 November 1999


The international community has asked Australia to lead the global effort to save endangered albatrosses.

Australia will lead the development of an international agreement for the conservation of southern hemisphere albatrosses under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (or Bonn Convention).

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the move is a major breakthrough for the conservation of endangered seabirds.

"It is fitting recognition of Australia's efforts to date to save the albatross and builds on the Howard Government's decision to seek to have the albatross listed under the Bonn Convention.

"Tens of thousands of albatrosses and other seabirds are killed each year in Southern Ocean tuna and toothfish longline fisheries.

"The Federal Government is actively working with the fishing industry, conservationists and researchers to implement a threat abatement plan aimed at reducing seabird deaths caused by longline fishing within Australia's jurisdiction by 90 per cent.

"But many of these birds are highly migratory, flying thousands of kilometres across the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. That is why a regional agreement such as this is an important starting point for developing global cooperation to conserve albatross species wherever they travel.

"The Convention has called upon all countries with albatross species within their national jurisdictions to cooperate in the development of the regional agreement."

Senator Hill has also released for public comment a Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant Petrels.

"Australia welcomes the listing of five species of petrels and two species of giant petrels to Appendix Two of the Convention, thus providing these species with greater protection.

"Our Recovery Plan aims to minimise all threats to these birds to ensure their recovery in the wild. Twenty-three species are incorporated in the plan - 21 albatross species and two giant petrel species.

"Australia's offer to lead in the development of this international agreement, coupled with our ongoing domestic efforts, places the nation at the forefront of global efforts to address the decline of some of the world's rarest seabird species," Senator Hill said.

For further information:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 36
Anne-Marie Delahunt (Environment Australia) 0412 446 136

Commonwealth of Australia