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Seabird Training For New Fishers

Seabird Training For New Fishers

Fishing industry recruits are learning how to fish without catching seabirds.

The Seafood Industry Training Organisation (SITO) has developed a unit standard to teach trainee fishers about the impact of fishing on seabirds and the importance of using practices to reduce the chances that seabirds will be accidentally caught.

The idea is to turn out fishers aware of the seabird issue and familiar with the range of solutions available.

Simon Reid from SITO says the unit standard has been designed especially for inclusion in the pre-sea training undertaken by new recruits to the fishing industry as well as experienced long-line and trawler crews.

At least two major fishing companies have already committed to putting their crews through the training, and Mr Reid is confident that other companies will also take part.

“Trainees are getting the message that what each of them does at sea really matters,” he says.

“There are some quite simple things that can and should be done that will make a big difference to interactions and mortalities. We want fishers to be proud of what the industry has achieved in mitigation to date, but we also want them to constantly strive to improve and extend the use of best practices.”

Meanwhile, Southern Seabird Solutions welcomes the new unit standard.

“It’s important that trainees enter the fishing industry aware of the seabird issue and knowledgeable about the range of good fishing practices that they can use to avoid accidentally killing seabirds,” says Southern Seabird Solutions convenor Janice Molloy, who also heads the Department of Conservation’s seabird conservation programme.



Seabirds forage for food throughout the southern hemisphere. They can be accidentally killed in the course of commercial fishing when they dive on baited hooks and then get dragged under the water.

A number of environmental groups, fishing companies and government departments formed an alliance last year called Southern Seabird Solutions to promote fishing practices which reduce the chances of southern hemisphere seabirds being caught.

A range of solutions to this problem already exist and are in use, and more are being developed. They include the use of: bird-scaring lines to keep seabirds away from the sinking baits, blue-dyed bait (for some reason the birds appear not to recognise the bait), devices to set fishing lines underwater, loud sounds and bright lights to scare away the birds, weights attached to the fishing lines so that baits sink faster, and night-setting so the baits are less visible.

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