New Zealand and Chile will partner together to help protect vulnerable seabirds, including the critically endangered Antipodean albatross.

An arrangement was signed today by New Zealand and Chilean ministers in Auckland, where Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero are visiting.

It establishes a partnership between the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand, and Chile's Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Ministry of Environment.

It aims to protect seabirds from dying in international fishing operations, including the Antipodean albatross, which breeds in New Zealand's remote Subantarctic Islands and is listed as "nationally critical" by the Department of Conservation.


Since 2004, the albatross population has been declining at a rate of 6 per cent a year for males and 12 per cent a year for females, and the population may disappear within 20 years.

Recent shifts in foraging ranges have seen the birds travel further offshore to feed.

The birds interact with fisheries on the high seas, including the international waters between New Zealand and Chile, and the biggest threat is being killed as bycatch in surface longline fisheries.

The New Zealand-Chile arrangement is expected to enable better exchange of information between New Zealand and Chile and support greater innovation to reduce albatross bycatch.

The arrangement will see increased co-operation through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, which govern fishing on the high seas.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held a joint press conference today with Piñera, who praised the agreement and spoke of the magnificence of the albatross.

They also spoke about the broad areas of agreement between New Zealand and Chile, such as free trade, human and indigenous rights, and combating climate change.

"We are both trading nations that value a strong, international, rules-based trading system," Ardern said.

"Those are philosophies we both reinforced at the recent Apec meeting, and will continue to reinforce as we continue our dialogue in the trade space, especially with the Pacific Alliance on both of our agendas."

The alliance is a trade bloc that includes Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile, which supports New Zealand efforts to be granted an associate membership.

Piñera said New Zealand and Chile were like-minded countries, despite being "5000 miles" from each other.

"We have a huge challenge to protect things which are vital to our society like freedom, human rights, free and open trade, collaboration, and in that we are sure we can always count on New Zealand, which is a best and good friend of Chile."

Piñera was welcomed at Government House in Auckland by the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, and met with business representatives with commercial interests in Chile.