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Regulations to reduce seabird deaths welcome

20 May 2005 - Wellington

Regulations to reduce seabird deaths welcome

Forest and Bird today welcomed the Government's decision to regulate commercial fishing operations in order to reduce the annual slaughter of thousands of seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels threatened with extinction.

Acting Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson today announced his intention to regulate the fishing industry within 200 nautical miles of the South Island, Chatham Islands and subantarctic islands. This follows the recall of squid fishers found to be reneging on their commitment to reduce seabird deaths.

"The fishing industry's voluntary approach has failed. Forest and Bird welcomes the Government's plans to regulate to protect thousands of seabirds, including albatross, from being killed," said Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

"An estimated ten thousand seabirds die every year as a result of fishing in New Zealand waters and these deaths are avoidable," he said.

"Forest and Bird has been disappointed by the failure of the fishing industry and Southern Seabird Solutions to make credible progress towards reducing seabird bycatch. The tiny Falkland Islands have made much better progress than New Zealand," Mr Hackwell said.

"We were heartened by this morning's frank admission by the Ministry of Fisheries that it was losing credibility because of the failure of the fishing industry to reduce its environmental impact. The Ministry needs to accept that its own lack of leadership has been a big part of the problem," he said.

"Forest and Bird looks forward to working with the Government to ensure that the regulations are effective. The Government will need to back up regulations with surveillance and observers because that is the only way to ensure the fishing industry complies," he said.

Notes

How many seabirds are killed by fishing in New Zealand? Over 10,000 seabirds are estimated to be killed in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone every year as a result of commercial fishing. Precise numbers are unknown because most commercial fishing vessels do not have independent observers. The squid fishery alone kills over 500 seabirds each year.

Why is New Zealand called the albatross capital of the World? New Zealand is called the albatross capital of the World because 14 out of the World's 21 albatross species breed within New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone. Most are globally threatened with extinction.

Bycatch images available on Forest and Bird's website at: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/bestfishguide/images.asp

Map showing the at-sea range and density distribution of breeding albatrosses is available from g.keey@forestandbird.org.nz

ENDS


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