President Bush Asks Congress to Ratify Key
International Conservation Treaty |
For Immediate Release: September 29, 2008
, American Bird Conservancy, 202-234-7181, ext. 216,
, Director of Bird Conservation, National Audubon Society,
202-861-2242. ext. 3034,
, American Bird Conservancy’s Seabird Program Coordinator,
(Washington, D.C.) President
Bush transmitted The Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses
and Petrels (ACAP) to the Senate Friday for approval. ACAP
is an international treaty between fishing nations for the
protection of albatrosses and petrels, wide-ranging seabird
species, many of which are threatened with extinction due
to poor fishing practices, pollution, and invasive species
on their breeding islands. Member countries agree to take
actions necessary to conserve these birds.
|Laysan Albatross. Photo: USFWS
“Seabirds are among the most magnificent
and most threatened birds on earth, yet are often overlooked,”
said Dr. George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy.
“We applaud the President for extending his support
of migratory birds to this vulnerable group.”
The Senate Foreign Relations committee
must now approve the treaty before it goes to the full Senate
for ratification, which requires a two-thirds majority. An
accompanying legislative package to implement the agreement
will also need to be approved by both the House and Senate.
Votes on the treaty and implementing legislation are not expected
until next year.
"Albatrosses and petrels are facing
growing threats, but if we move quickly on the provisions
contained in this treaty, they stand a better chance of survival,"
said Betsy Loyless, Audubon's Senior Vice President for Policy.
"We strongly urge the Senate to approve the treaty as
quickly as possible."
Eleven countries (Argentina, Australia,
Chile, Ecuador, France, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Africa,
Spain, and the United Kingdom) have now signed and ratified
the treaty, which went into effect in 2001. Brazil and Uruguay
have both passed national legislation to enable their countries
to become Parties to the Agreement. Their membership will
follow 3 months after submission of their instruments of ratification
and accession to the Agreement Depository, in Canberra, Australia.
The United States is already in compliance
with the provisions of the treaty, but U.S. participation
offers an important opportunity to engage other countries
in the protection of seabirds when they range outside of U.S.
waters. Doing so will help level the playing field for American
fishermen, who must currently observe U.S. regulations that
are far more stringent than the laws that govern the actions
of many of their foreign competitors.
“The United States has been an active
participant in the work of the Agreement, attending both preparatory
meetings and subsequent meetings of ACAP’s Advisory
Committee and Meeting of the Parties. It has been, and continues
to be, very influential in international efforts to conserve
these magnificent global wanderers,” said Warren Papworth,
ACAP Executive Secretary. “By joining the Agreement,
the United States would send a clear message to the international
community of its resolve to prevent the extinction of albatrosses
and petrels and in particular to achieve and maintain a favourable
conservation status for those species listed under the Agreement.
Ten out of the 22 albatross species are
Critically Endangered or Endangered, and another eight are
considered to be Vulnerable to Extinction, according to the
IUCN-World Conservation Union. The most important threats
to these species are accidental deaths in longline fishing
gear, loss of eggs and chicks to introduced predators on breeding
islands, and exposure to contaminants and floating plastic
trash, which the birds accidentally consume. Solving these
problems requires coordinated efforts by governments, scientists,
fishermen, and conservation organizations.
“Migratory species such as seabirds
cannot be protected by the actions of one country alone”,
added Jessica Hardesty, American Bird Conservancy’s
Seabird Program Coordinator. “International coordination,
such as that offered by ACAP, is the only way to ensure that
our future generations will also be able to enjoy these birds.”
Conservancy (ABC) is a not-for-profit organization whose
mission is to conserve native wild birds and their habitats
throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest
bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats, while
building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is the
voice for birds, ensuring that they are adequately protected;
that sufficient funding is available for bird conservation;
and that land is protected and properly managed to maintain
viable habitat. ABC is a 501(c)(3) membership organization
that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the
independent group, Charity Navigator.
Now in its second century, Audubon connects
people with birds, nature and the environment that supports
us all. Our national network of community-based nature centers,
chapters, scientific, education, and advocacy programs engages
millions of people from all walks of life in conservation
action to protect and restore the natural world.