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Combatting bird deaths in swordfish fishery

06th December 2006

New measures to combat bird deaths in swordfish fishery

The Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton announced today that he intends putting in place strong measures to address threat to seabirds, and in particular albatross, from our long-line fisheries.

“I am particularly concerned about bird deaths in the new and developing swordfish fishery,” Jim Anderton said. “The species being caught (Antipodean wandering albatross), and the number of these birds caught is particularly worrying.

“The issue is that these swordfish longlines are being set during the day, at very shallow depths.

"I am proposing a Gazette notice that will require surface longlines targeting tuna or swordfish to be set at night.

"I also propose to clarify in the same Gazette notice that bird scaring streamer (tori) lines of approved specifications must be used when surface longlining regardless of whether tuna or swordfish is the prime target.

"Finally, I propose that all fishers targeting tuna or swordfish using shallow set longlines must notify the MFish observer programme of their intention and also provide at least five days notice of departure on a fishing trip.

"I am confident these measures will, at least in the short term, minimise impacts on seabirds. I will be consulting on these measures over the next fortnight and plan to have the measures in place as early in the new year as possible.

"The dedicated swordfish fishery is new and I will be monitoring it closely to ensure that it does not have unacceptable impacts on the environment. If problems persist and the measures I have announced today are not sufficient to protect the environment, I will look to at all options, including closing the fishery until I can have confidence safe, alternative fishing methods have been developed," Jim Anderton said today in Wellington.

ENDS

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