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Birds, Wildlife and Gardening

New Bill to Strengthen International Conservation for Albatrosses and Petrels

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2021) – Following World Albatross Day, Reps. Alan Lowenthal and Brian Fitzpatrick introduced a bill today that will conserve some of the most endangered seabirds on the planet. The Albatross and Petrel Conservation Act would implement the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), an international conservation agreement that covers 31 species of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters.

“These species spend most of their lives on the open ocean, but too often die tragic and avoidable deaths after becoming hooked on fishing lines and drowning,” said Anna Weinstein, director of marine conservation for the National Audubon Society. “This legislation is the first step to the U.S. joining this treaty, which will encourage all nations to save these seabirds using the full suite of conservation measures that ACAP provides.”

Thousands of albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters die every year as a result of fisheries operations using fishing lines over 20 miles long with thousands of hooks. Longline fishing is commonly used around the world to catch swordfish, tuna, and other large ocean fish. Albatrosses come in contact with these lines as they spend 90 percent of their lives at sea, crossing multiple international boundaries to nest and find food.

As a leader in international ocean conservation, the U.S. already protects the three species of albatrosses and petrels that breed within the U.S. via the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act. However, this level of protection is not available to these birds once they leave U.S. waters. A recent study found that albatrosses and petrels spend about 40 percent of their time outside national borders.

To prevent these highly migratory birds from becoming hooked on these lines, international cooperation is needed. ACAP also tackles a number of other threats including degradation and disturbance of their habitats, pollution, overfishing, and climate change.

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About Audubon

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

Contact: Rachel Guillory, rachel.guillory@audubon.org

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