World Albatross Day takes off

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The Department of Conservation’s deputy chief biodiversity officer says time is running out to save the albatrosses, but increased government funding will go some way to increasing protection efforts.

Photo: albatross.org.nz

Today is World Albatross Day.

Marie Long said work to protect the Antipodean albatross and other rare seabirds is stepping up as part of the government’s Budget 2022 investment.

Long said the budget provides more than $2 million to increase protection efforts over three years for endangered species such as the antipodean albatross, black petrel, and Māui and Hector’s dolphins.

Funding will be split between international efforts and work undertaken in New Zealand to protect these species.

“We can take steps to reduce threats,” Long said, “like bycatch on longlines, in our national fisheries, but the fate of our albatrosses also depends on others.

“Seabirds don’t recognize borders between nations as they roam the oceans, so we need to broaden our horizons to protect them as best we can, wherever they are.”

Close view of Northern Royal Albatross in flight, Taiaroa Head, Otago Peninsula.

Photo: Don Mammoser / 123RF

The DOC said Aotearoa, New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world, with the greatest diversity of seabird species, 38 of which breed here and nowhere else.

Albatrosses and petrels are among the most endangered groups of birds in the world.

He said seabirds were once abundant on the mainland but are now largely restricted to offshore islands.

DOC Marine’s Senior Scientific Advisor, Igor Debski, is working on the International Seabird Strategy.

“We have a role to play internationally to show leadership in mitigating seabird bycatch in fisheries. We have already formed partnerships with Chile and Spain, two major countries fishing, to protect the species that we share between our coasts.

“Our goal is to strengthen and expand our efforts to encourage international action.”

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