Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today, joining with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and 11 House colleagues, introduced legislation that will protect imperiled seabirds from international fishing threats and increase ongoing conservation efforts in the United States and abroad.
The Albatross and Petrel Conservation Act would implement the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), a conservation agreement that has been signed by thirteen member countries since 2001. President George W. Bush first asked the U.S. Senate to ratify the agreement in 2008, and while President Barack Obama listed it as a priority, the Senate has yet to take action.
“It is critical that the United States implement the ACAP, and in doing so encourage other nations to adopt strong conservation standards and take steps to ensure that foreign fishing vessels follow international conservation measures that protect endangered seabirds,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “I believe this is a perfect opportunity for our nation to not only resume leadership on the conservation issue, but improve wildlife conservation around the world.”
Many albatross and petrel species are among the most threatened seabirds in the world because of habitat loss and fisheries bycatch (unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species), but the U.S. has been a leader in reducing fisheries bycatch.
The Albatross and Petrel Conservation Act ties together existing U.S. laws and statutes without substantially changing current laws in order to implement the international agreement.
“This legislation will give the U.S. more international influence to protect these endangered sea birds around the world by authorizing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement fisheries conservation measures, increase international fisheries enforcement, restore habitat, reduce non-native species, develop educational programs, and cooperate internationally,” Congressman Lowenthal said.
“More than half of the world’s albatross and petrel species face extinction, and it’s time the United States joins its allies in preventing the needless deaths of these incredible birds,” National Audubon Society Senior Vice President of Conservation Policy Sarah Greenberger said. “Rep. Lowenthal’s bill is a step toward all countries abiding by the same commonsense fishing safeguards, creating a level playing field for our responsible U.S. fishers. This is good for birds and good for people, and Audubon will work with members on both sides of the aisle to get this legislation across the finish line.”
Click here to read the full text of the bill