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Seabird saver wins Green Ribbon award

Seabird saver wins Green Ribbon award

The inventor of an underwater bait-setting device that stops seabirds fouling on fishhooks has won an award from the Ministry for the Environment.

Dave Kellian, a tuna longliner of Warkworth, north of Auckland, was one of 38 people nominated in the sustainable business category of the Ministry’s annual Green Ribbon awards, due to be presented in Parliament today by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs.

Southern Seabird Solutions spokeswoman Janice Molloy said today that the award recognised Mr Kellian’s long-standing commitment to sustainable fishing.

The capsule, which sets baited hooks 10 metres underwater – like a sewing machine but with a 10 metre-long needle - is currently being trialled on an Australian tuna boat.

“Dave has spent the last nine years designing and testing an underwater bait-setting capsule in his shed, and on fishing boats,” Ms Molloy said. He has had many technical and financial setbacks along the way but never gave up. At one stage he totally scrapped the design, and started again from scratch after a five- week sea voyage uncovered major problems.”

The award will be collected by Mr Kellian’s father and his son in his absence from New Zealand fishing in Australia.

Mr Kellian said his fishing activities got him interested in marine conservation.

“I’ve been fishing all my life, and my dad was a fisherman too. I’ve caught my share of seabirds over the years and I’m not proud of that. I guess it was just ignorance, but now I’m really committed to finding a solution for this problem.”

He said he was determined to make something that wouldn’t interfere with normal fishing activities, that would be easy to operate, with the potential to be used in fisheries throughout the southern hemisphere.

On the strength of his conservation commitment and his work on underwater bait-setting devices, Mr Kellian was invited to spend 12 months working for the Department of Conservation as a seabird/fisheries advisory officer, during which time he visited close to every tuna and inshore ling fisher in New Zealand.

Seabirds are accidentally killed in the course of commercial fishing when they dive on baited hooks in their search for food.

Southern Seabird Solution is an alliance of the fishing industry, government departments and environmental groups formed in 2002 to promote fishing techniques that reduce the chances of seabirds being caught in fisheries. Mr Kellian is a member of Southern Seabird Solutions.

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