Learn about New Zealand's efforts to protect species identified under the Migratory Species Convention.

Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

On 19 June 2001, seven fishing nations (New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Chile, France and the United Kingdom) signed a new conservation agreement to protect species of migrating albatrosses and petrels - the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels. The agreement was developed under provisions of the Convention on Migratory Species.

Parties agree to achieve and maintain, through co-ordinated and co-operative measures, a favourable conservation status for albatrosses and petrels. They also undertake to apply a precautionary approach in applying those measures.

Key elements:

  • build capacity in all countries involved to improve the environment for albatrosses and petrels
  • implement a range of co-operative conservation, monitoring and information sharing actions
  • hold a triennial Meeting of Parties to the agreement
  • establish an Agreement Secretariat
  • establish a Scientific Committee as an advisory body to the Meeting of Parties of the Agreement

13 of the 28 species to be managed under the agreement are either endemic or native to New Zealand. Many of these species regularly leave New Zealand territory for long periods when they are exposed to greater threats.

Benefits include:

  • improved effectiveness of conservation efforts related to the species concerned
  • improved protection of species, such as the royal albatross, important for eco-tourism in New Zealand
  • a clearly demonstrated commitment to globally based conservation of albatross and petrel species
  • greater co-operation in albatross and petrel conservation efforts with other countries
  • improved access to technologies and information available from other parties

Get more information: Treaty factsheet (PDF, 443K).

Fisheries bycatch

Research into methods of minimising accidental capture of seabirds and marine mammals in commercial fishing operations is funded by the fishing industry through a Conservation Services Levy.

The fishing industry and conservationists alike share a concern that the baited hooks laid by longline fishing vessels can provide a fatal attraction for seabirds. In recognition of this problem, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Fisheries and the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council convened the first International Fishers' Forum in November 2000 to plan improved methods of avoiding this incidental capture.

Shorebird network sites

The Firth of Thames and Nelson's Farewell Spit are key locations for the arrival and departure of migratory seabirds on the East Asia-Australasian Migratory Shorebird Flyway. The significance of these sites is recognised by their designation as Wetlands of International Significance, under the provisions of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. They are both managed by the Department of Conservation as 'Coastal Reserve and Shorebird Network Sites'.

Research and public interpretation of the migratory seabirds is also undertaken at the Firth of Thames.

The New Zealand National Banding Scheme

Much of our knowledge of the distribution, migration patterns and lifespan of birds results from worldwide observations of individuals, identified by leg bands. The scheme for ensuring appropriate standards of animal welfare associated with handling of these birds, and of keeping track of the thousands of subsequent observations, is administered by the Department of Conservation.

New Zealand's National Banding Scheme has a long history, having its origins in schemes operated since 1947 by the Wildlife Branch of Internal Affairs and, since 1950 by the Ornithological Society of New Zealand (OSNZ). Those schemes were amalgamated in 1967 to form a single national banding scheme.

More than 1.2 million birds have now been banded in New Zealand with between 20 000 and 25 000 being added to this total each year.

The Department of Conservation also maintains a computer database of recovery records of banded birds, describing more than 270 000 observations of over 170 000 individual birds.

Action Plan for Seabird Conservation in New Zealand

The Department of Conservation has published two volumes of action plans for seabird conservation in New Zealand (Department of Conservation, 2000, Threatened Species Occasional Publications 16 & 17). These publications describe 90 species of seabirds, summarising their distribution, population, threats, previous conservation actions and future needs for management, survey, monitoring and research.

Southern Seabirds Solutions

Southern Seabirds Solutions is an alliance of the seafood industry, environmental groups, and governments who take a cooperative approach to seabird conservation, encouraging and supporting fishermen in New Zealand and around the world to adopt responsible fishing practices to avoid the death and injury of seabirds in the southern hemisphere.

Nineteen albatross and petrel species are threatened with extinction and for these species fishing is the major threat, as they, like many other seabirds, have learnt that the easiest way to get food is to forage at the back of fishing vessels where they risk becoming caught on baited hooks or entangled in fishing gear.

Southern Seabirds Solutions ultimate goal is the all fishing vessels in the southern hemisphere use fishing practices that avoid the accidental capture of seabirds.

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