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Fishery shouldn’t be punished for one bad apple

Swordfish fishery shouldn’t be punished for one bad apple, says seafood industry

28th November 2006

“Its a pity the actions of one charter vessel may potentially severly restrict the tuna swordfish fishery,” said Owen Symmans, chief executive of the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council in response to the Ministry of Fisheries’ proposal of emergency action in the surface longline fishery.

“A responsible operator would have used the mitigation methods and complied with the codes of practice adopted by New Zealand longliners,” Mr Symmans said, “and he would have left the area when it was apparent that birds were being caught. This stupidity could potentially penalise the whole industry. The New Zealand seafood industry is extremely concerned about by-catch issues and we agree with the Minister that the failure of one chartered vessel to mitigate by catch of seabirds must be addressed quickly,” Mr Symmans said. “However, we believe that a rapid solution can be achieved using voluntary methods.

“New Zealand flagged longline vessels apply seabird mitigation devices and operate under Codes of Best Practice to avoid catching seabirds. Seabird by-catch mitigation devices have been developed by fishermen in New Zealand who are passionately committed to reducing seabird mortality. The industry has been proactive in developing and implementing them for many years. And New Zealand fishermen are actively involved in encouraging other southern hemisphere countries to adopt these practices.

“It is the responsibility of New Zealand quota owners to ensure vessels they are chartering adhere to the same standards as New Zealand owned and operated vessels,” Mr Symmans said. “But all owners should not be punished for the poor actions of one.”

“New Zealand flagged boats must adhere to regulations by law. Tori lines are manadatory,” said Mr Symmans. This has greatly reduced the number of albatrosses caught by longline vessels, he said.

--

Background Information:

Techniques that are widely used amongst New Zealand fishers to mitigate their impact on seabirds include:
* Retaining offal on board so that birds are not attracted to the vessels
* Using tori lines (streamer lines) off the back of vessels to scare birds away from the baited lines. The main problems occur when the line is being set as birds follow the boats and dive for the bait fish as they are being dropped into the sea. The birds get caught on the hooks and drown. A tori line stops this with streamer type material that is trailed behind the boat with a series of drop down pieces. These discourage the birds from flying through them.
* Setting baited hooks at night, when they are harder to see
The industry is also actively involved in Southern Seabird Solutions (www.southernseabirds.org) which was formed in 2002, and the charitable trust established in 2004.
Its purpose is to work with fishers throughout the southern hemisphere to develop and promote fishing practices that are safer for seabirds. Its members include fishers, representatives of the fishing industry, conservation organisations, marine eco-tourism operators and government agencies.

ENDS

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