Peter Burling and Blair Tuke took time out ahead of practice racing in Cádiz, Spain to share their experience as founders of marine conservation organisation, Live Ocean. Speaking at SailGP’s Champions for Change forum, the pair discussed the crisis facing the world’s albatrosses, why international co-operation is so vital and the important role that New Zealand and Spain have to play.
The plight of the Antipodean albatross was the first project Peter and Blair got behind when they founded Live Ocean, New Zealand SailGP Team’s Race for the Future charity partner.
The Antipodean albatross is New Zealand’s most threatened albatross with estimates of 2,300 being lost each year, according to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC). The number one threat to them is being killed by the long lines from fishing boats.
With SailGP capturing an international audience, the duo used their platform to highlight the issue on the world stage through their sport. “We see the Antipodean albatross as a symbol for the crisis facing many of the world’s albatrosses and seabirds at sea and the threats they face from longline fisheries. We have really connected with the Antipodean albatross and spent time talking to the researchers – Live Ocean helped fund the tagging programme showing where they are getting into trouble”, said Peter.
Joining them on stage, New Zealand Ambassador to Spain Nigel Fyfe shared insight into the planned agreement between New Zealand and Spain for the protection of seabirds in the Southern Ocean.
“Through the agreement, NZ and Spain will demonstrate implementation of best practice – weighted lines, bird-scaring lines and night setting. Used together those three measures will eliminate seabird bycatch, and through science and collaboration we will encourage others to follow our lead”, said Nigel.
Peter and Blair gave their strong support for the planned cooperation between New Zealand and Spain. “It’s exciting to see action and international co-operation. These birds don’t understand national boundaries, the Antipodean albatross roams between New Zealand, Chile, Australia and the Pacific. Countries have to work together”, said Blair.
To further highlight the crisis facing the world’s albatrosses, this week the New Zealand SailGP Team are displaying a graphic of an albatross on their boat. It is a symbol of the team’s commitment to shining a spotlight on the plight of the Antipodean albatross and working to stop their freefall to extinction.