HC Deb 25 June 2002 vol 387 cc759-60W
Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department has implemented since June regarding the conservation of(a) albatrosses and (b) petrels. [61168]

Mr. Meacher

[holding answer 13 June 2002]: The main threat to albatrosses and petrels arises from long-line fishing for tuna and toothfish in the southern oceans, in which I understand that no metropolitan UK vessels are involved. Last June the UK signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), made under the Convention on Migratory Species. ACAP will require its parties to co-operate in the development and implementation of an action plan for the conservation of these species, encompassing both the control of fishing activities, including measures to mitigate the impact of long-line fishing, and the protection of breeding sites, some of which are in the UK's overseas territories. The RSPB has recently undertaken research into these and other bird species on Gough Island, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Government are currently in discussion with the authorities of the range state overseas territories to ascertain whether they need new legislation in order to implement the requirements of ACAP. We are also considering the position in respect of the metropolitan UK, and will explore with our partners in the European Union the prospects for wider European participation. I hope the UK will be in a position to ratify ACAP, possible initially on behalf of some of the overseas territories, later this year.