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Forest & Bird behind on seabird protection

Forest & Bird behind the times on seabird protection

Forest & Bird's reaction to the draft national plan of action to reduce seabird deaths from fishing is out of date and sadly old-fashioned, says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.

"Forest & Bird's denial of the value of voluntary measures to protect seabirds is poorly informed. The Japanese tuna boats that Forest & Bird praises for reducing seabird by-catch are in fact operating under a voluntary code of practice, just as the draft national plan of action proposes.

"Forest & Bird also overlooks the considerable progress that has been made recently by a voluntary alliance between the fishing industry, government agencies and environmental groups.

"Southern Seabird Solutions was set up a year ago to promote fishing practices that avoid seabird deaths. The group includes representatives from the fishing industry, environmental groups, government departments, Te Ohu Kai Moana, fisheries training organisations, an eco-tourism company, Environment Australia, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the Marine Stewardship Council, and Birdlife International.

"This group is already achieving valuable results, including industry training initiatives, codes of practice and trials of new technologies to reduce seabird deaths. A ling longline fishery working group, for example, has done all these things. The voluntary approach enables the industry to share responsibility for finding solutions, which promotes innovation.

"Forest & Bird's comments also fail to acknowledge that the draft national plan of action proposes voluntary measures that will be made mandatory if they are not established or adhered to in Codes of Practice. This approach, using voluntary measures backed up with regulatory powers, has proven its value in areas such as animal welfare. Forest & Bird's insistence on a blunt regulatory approach is simply behind the times."

For more information on Southern Seabird Solutions, see: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Conservation/001~Plants-and-Animals/004~Seabirds/Southern-Seabird-Solutions/index.asp

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