Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


A new arrangement between New Zealand and Spain will boost protection for seabirds threatened by fishing operations.

Date:  15 December 2021 Source:  Office of the Minister of Conservation

Yesterday, New Zealand’s Ambassador to Spain, on behalf of the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries, signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Spain to reduce seabird bycatch.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allan said the MOU is the start of a strong, cooperative relationship between New Zealand and Spain to reach shared goals on seabird conservation.

“Highly migratory species may spend much of their time foraging in the high seas. We can’t limit ourselves to protecting these taonga species only when they are breeding on our islands or coast and foraging in our waters.”

The arrangement is designed to promote the uptake of best practice seabird bycatch mitigation measures, including advocacy in regional and international forums.

New Zealand is a global hotspot for seabird diversity, with the greatest number of endemic breeding seabird species.

Minister for Oceans and Fisheries David Parker said while great progress is being made to reduce bycatch in our domestic fisheries, fishing in international waters poses a bigger challenge to species such as the Antipodean albatross. The Antipodean albatross is currently in a population freefall towards extinction.

“Spain is a major fishing nation. Together New Zealand and Spain can play an important role in promoting best practice for seabird bycatch mitigation across the world. This advocacy will help to protect our migratory seabirds in Pacific fisheries and beyond.”

This MOU is a positive step in furthering international cooperation on seabird conservation and demonstrates the importance of collaboration to protect a range of threatened albatross and petrel species.

Background information

The key actions in the MOU are to:

  • Promote the adoption of bycatch mitigation measures, in particular those advised in the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)
  • Share information and collaborate on research on seabird conservation
  • Cooperate in the implementation of the Antipodean Albatross Concerted Action

The ACAP is an international agreement which coordinates activities to mitigate threats to albatross and petrel species. The bycatch mitigation measures advised by ACAP are widely considered to the best practices currently available. 

New Zealand already has a similar seabird conservation arrangement in place with Chile.


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