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fisherman nominated for 2015 Seaweek Ocean Champion

Media release

13 February 2015

Port Charmers fisherman nominated for 2015 Seaweek Ocean Champion Competition

Ant Smith, a Port Charmers fisherman of more than 20 years has been nominated as a Seaweek Ocean Champion for his work to minimise the impact of fishing on seabirds.

David McFarlane, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust field manager has worked closely with Ant on a number of projects and says “Ant is passionate about promoting sustainable use of the seas and conservation of threatened species.”

“He fishes in a seabird smart manner using a device called a ‘cone’ invented by the Mitchell brothers of Timaru to reduce the capture and harm of seabirds when trawling. He also uses simple but effective practices to minimise impact on seabirds when fishing, including discarding offal overboard only when fishing gear is out of the ‘risk zone’ for seabirds.”

The nationwide Ocean Champion initiative celebrates all those individuals, groups and organisations who work hard to look after the marine environment.

Voting for nominated Ocean Champions is open atseaweek.org.nz to members of the public between 1 February and 28 February. The winner of the Ocean Champion competition will be announced during Seaweek, February 28 – March 8.

Seaweek is New Zealand’s annual national week about the marine environment, hosted by the NZ Association for Environmental Education (NZAEE). Seaweek is celebrated every year with the aim of inspiring all New Zealanders to renew their connections with the sea. A wide range of events and activities will be held around Dunedin throughout the week.

Dunedin event details can be found at http://seaweek.org.nz/.


Background information

Ant Smith

Is the immediate past president of the Port Chalmers Fishermen's Association and is highly regarded among Port Charmers fisherman. Ant is frequently engaged in communications with the conservation community regarding the sustainable use of the sea, a topic which he is extremely passionate about.

Groups of visiting fisherman have been directed to Ant for education on seabird smart fishing practices. As a result Ant has sold the ‘cone’ device to Australian fisherman to use in their waters.

Ant was the lead fisherman involved in the production of the Southern Seabird Solutions DVD ‘Sharing Worlds- seabirds and fishing’.

Ant has consistently shown leadership in the fishing community to protect seabirds and encourage sustainable fishing practices across the industry. He is a role model for others in the industry and is passionate about insuring the impacts of fisheries are minimised to insure healthy seas and conservation of rare species.


NZAEE and Seaweek

The New Zealand Association for Environmental Education(NZAEE) is a national, non-profit organisation that promotes and supports lifelong learning and encourages behaviour that leads to sustainability for New Zealand/Aotearoa. NZAEE is an independent voice for environmental education, empowering people to respect and nurture the environment, recognising its link with the social, cultural and economic aspects of sustainability.

Seaweek is NZAEE’s annual, national flagship event. It is run through NZAEE members and volunteers with support from a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations. Originally run by the Marine Education Society of Australasia (now part of NZAEE), it was first held in New Zealand in 1992.

Seaweek is funded entirely through sponsorship and in-kind support.

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