It’s hoped a new plan to conserve albatrosses and petrels in Australian waters will help pull these unique seabirds back from the brink of extinction.

The new national Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant Petrels was approved by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke in May, and is being highlighted today on National Threatened Species Day.

All of the world’s 22 species of albatross are currently listed as endangered by the International Conservation Union.

The birds’ survival is threatened on a number of fronts, including fishing operations, marine debris and pollution, predation of eggs and chicks and habitat destruction.

The new Recovery Plan covers 19 albatross and two giant petrel species which breed on Australian islands and forage in our waters.

Seven of the species included in the plan breed in Australia and another 14 forage in Australian waters.

It outlines a range of research projects and management actions needed to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, the species.

The 2011–2016 Recovery Plan includes:

  • population monitoring and related demographic research;
  • a review of the conservation status of each of the 21 species;
  • measures to reduce threats at sea and on land;
  • education of fishers and the public about the importance of conserving these species; and
  • increased international conservation actions, a critical element as these species are highly migratory, spending about 95% of their life at sea and much of that outside Australia’s jurisdiction.

The Recovery Plan operates alongside the Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch (or bycatch) of Seabirds during Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations, which aims to reduce deaths and injuries to seabirds from longline fishing, and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.

National Threatened Species Day is celebrated annually on 7 September to encourage the community to prevent further extinctions of Australia’s fauna and flora, and to restore healthy numbers of endangered species and ecological communities in the wild. September is also Biodiversity Month, a time when many Australians celebrate our unique and valuable biodiversity with activities to protect and conserve the environment.