Albatross and petrel bill introduced in the Senate

By Lauren McDonald

©James Preston

A bill introduced in Congress last week would heighten U.S. involvement in the protection of migratory seabird populations placed at risk by some international fishing operations.

The Albatross and Petrel Conservation Act (H.R. 4480), introduced by Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) to the House Natural Resource Committee Feb. 4, would ratify the International Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels in the United States.

By ratifying ACAP, the U.S. would have more international influence and resources that are necessary to protect migratory seabird populations. Former President George W. Bush asked the Senate to approve the treaty in 2008. Since then, President Obama has listed the agreement as a “priority,” but Congress has yet to take action.

If the bill is passed, the United States will join 13 other nations in mitigation efforts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service would be authorized to improve seabird conservation efforts through research, habitat restoration, invasive species control, and development of public awareness programs.

Albatross and petrel populations are under severe threat due to habitat loss, invasive predators, marine pollution and fisheries bycatch – the incidental take of non-target species in fisheries equipment. Approximately 100,000 albatross are caught in longline fisheries equipment and drown each year. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recognizes 15 of the 22 species of albatross and half of all species of petrel as threatened by extinction.

The Wildlife Society is a member of the Bird Conservation Alliance coalition and encourages the conservation of migratory birds through improved policy and international collaboration.

Additional information provided by the ACAP Audubon Fact Sheet.

Lauren McDonald is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

Read more of Lauren's articles.