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NZ to help reduce Southern Ocean bird by-catch

NZ to help reduce Southern Ocean bird by-catch

A New Zealand skipper is to work with French fishers in the Southern Ocean to help them reduce the accidental death of seabirds, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

The New Zealander will travel to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, where he will work with French longliners catching Patagonian toothfish in an initiative agreed between the New Zealand and French delegations at the Annual Meeting of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart, Tasmania.

The visit was proposed by Southern Seabird Solutions, a coalition of scientists, government agencies, fishers and environmental groups that has been established to improve co-operation in reducing the impact of fishing operations on seabirds. French fishing companies and administration officials are very willing to undertake this co-operation and will make the necessary arrangements.

“Considerable effort has been made in recent years to develop measures that minimize seabird by-catch, and New Zealand is widely acknowledged as a world leader in this field," Mr Goff and Mr Carter said.

“The newly-established French longline fishery in the Indian Ocean has been experiencing serious difficulties with by-catch. The experience gained by New Zealand in its fisheries in the Ross Sea should greatly assist in significantly reducing the seabird by-catch in other areas of the Southern Ocean.

"We commend the fishing industry for developing such effective mitigation measures, and also for their commitment to sharing their experiences with other fishers,” the Ministers said.

Funding for the visit by a skipper from Sealord Group will be provided by the Norwegian fishing gear manufacturer A.S. Fiskevegn and Gourock NZ, which have been working with New Zealand and Australian fishers and scientists to develop an integrated-weight longline that sinks quickly, thus minimizing the opportunity for seabirds to reach the baited hooks as the line is set.

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