Urgent Action Needed To Save Albatross And Petrels
Urgent Action Needed To Save Albatross And Petrels From Extinction
The Forest and Bird Protection Society calls on the government to immediately close the ling long-line fishery to reduce further seabird by catch. The Minister of Conservation today reported that in one trip a long line vessel fishing for ling had caught over 300 seabirds, mainly white chinned petrels, on the Chatham Rise.
“This level of seabird carnage is appalling and totally unacceptable,” said Forest and Bird’s Research Officer, Barry Weeber.
“This appalling level of seabird deaths must stop if we are to prevent driving a range of seabirds species to extinction. White-chinned petrels have decline dramatically throughout the southern ocean and the Society was concerned that the critically endangered Chatham’s Albatross was also at risk from the ling fishery.”
“New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world. Forty percent of albatross species are native to New Zealand, as are large numbers of petrel species. Seabird numbers are crashing around the world and some albatross species could be extinct within 10 years - some albatross species have declined by 90% in 60 years.”
Forest and Bird estimates that, the ling, tuna and hoki fisheries are catching around 10,000 albatross and petrels annually in New Zealand waters. The ling fishery is certainly amongst the worst in New Zealand for killing seabirds, Mr Weeber said.
In the short term the fishery should only be reopened when the long line boats are required to adopt best international practice to reduce seabird by catch.. “It is a national disgrace that there are no requirements on ling vessels when the problem of seabird deaths in the ling fishery has been known for 10 years,” said Mr Weeber.
“New Zealand must take bold steps if we are to hold up our heads internationally on seabird deaths in fisheries.”
Mr Weeber said Forest and Bird was looking for urgent action from the Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation on this issue.
New Zealand should require all ling and other longline vessels to adopt the same measures agreed to by Antarctic fisheries regime (CCALMR). These measures are international best practice and should set the baseline for any measures adopted in New Zealand.
The measures adopted
by CCAMLR include:
Area and seasonal closures to times when birds are particularly active in the area – this has involved stopping fishing from October to March in many areas;
Tori or bird lines lines and night setting;
100 percent observer coverage;
stopping the dumping of offal while longlines are set.
See also http://www.forest-bird.org.nz/marine/birds/3rdlevel_Albatross.asp
Australia has agreed to a “Threat Abatement Plan for the incidental catch (or by-catch) of seabirds during oceanic longline operations.” Environment Australia. 1997, 61p.
See attached CCAMLR (Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) Conservation Measure 29/XIX
Minimum Requirements for New Zealand National Plan of Action: Reducing Albatross and Petrel Interaction with New Zealand Trawl and Longline Fisheries:
The combined effects of the tuna fleet, ling longliner, trawlers and other line fishers may be capturing over 10,000 seabirds annually in the New Zealand zone. Last year alone over 1100 seabirds were observed killed in a range of longline and trawl fisheries. The observer coverage was very poor in the domestic tuna fishery, poor in parts of the ling and trawl fisheries and non-existent in the bluenose and snapper fisheries. Only with adequate observer coverage will the scale of the current level of seabird captures be able to be accurately measured.
Based on past experience, a target of at least 20 percent observer coverage of all line fisheries which is spread across areas, seasons and vessels to provide statistically robust estimates for observers. In contrast CCAMLR has adopted a standard of two observers in toothfish longline fisheries.
The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has established best practice Conservation Measures. These should be adopted by New Zealand as a minimum requirement to all domestic line vessels.
Forest and Bird's concerns over the measures
proposed by the draft NPOA include:
No requirement for area or seasonal closures to stop fishing when birds are most active in an area.
Limiting the focus to “at risk species” without considering the obligations in the Fisheries Act 1996 to “avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effect of fishing on the aquatic environment” and best practice fishing techniques which can reduce the impact of fishing on all seabirds.
No requirement for longline vessels to meet the best practice requirements set out in CCAMLR Conservation Measure 29/XIX, including night setting and the requirements (to do what) in the Ross Sea fishery in Conservation Measure 210/XIX. Tori lines are only required for tuna vessels and not ling, bluenose or snapper longline vessels. The CCAMLR measures are requirements of New Zealand vessels fishing in the Southern Ocean.
No requirement for trawlers to meet the best practice requirements set out in CCAMLR Conservation Measure 173XVIII (apart from the prohibition on net monitor cables).
In the trawl fisheries, measures to prohibit the use of centre cables that have the same effect as a net monitor cables but do not link the net monitor.
No requirement for bottom longline vessels (eg ling) to meet the sink rate requirements established in CCAMLR conservation measures (eg CM210/XIX Appendix A). Vessels should be required to meet these rates before they can be used.