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NZ Hosts Workshop On Reducing Seabird Deaths

Southern Seabird Solutions Trust

NZ Hosts Workshop On Reducing Seabird Deaths

Over the last two days experts from around the world gathered in Nelson to discuss ways to reduce seabird deaths in trawl fisheries.

The 65 people who attended the two-day event included fishermen, scientists, government officials and environmental groups. Countries represented at the workshop included Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. The workshop was hosted by the New Zealand organisation Southern Seabird Solutions.

“From a New Zealand perspective, the workshop offered skippers and other fishing industry representatives, scientists and government officials the opportunity to discuss what practices have worked over the past year and what haven’t, along with where we go from here. New Zealand fishermen are taking this issue seriously and have made great strides this year,” says fisheries advocate Richard Wells. “The international representatives were helpful in shedding light on how other parts of the world are dealing with this issue and how New Zealand is measuring up.”

One of the ways seabirds are killed in the trawl fisheries is when they are hit by the cables attached to the trawl nets. The birds are often so busy trying to feed on offal or fish that they are unaware of the large cables. A number of mitigation measures are emerging to reduce this problem including tori lines (streamer lines flown off the back of vessels to scare birds away) and other ways that deter seabirds from hitting the cables. As scientists and fishermen agreed at the workshop however, a longer term solution needs to be found for how offal is managed at sea.

“What Southern Seabird Solutions found in organising similar workshops for longlining fisheries is that getting everyone in the same room together means that some practical answers come out of the sessions, as well as a commitment to continue working together,” says Janice Molloy, convenor, Southern Seabird Solutions. “This international cooperation is very important for us here because New Zealand seabirds are global travellers and they’re being killed in fisheries around the world.”

The Southern Seabird Solutions Trust was established to promote fishing practices that avoid seabird deaths in Southern Hemisphere fisheries. The trawl workshop was sponsored by WWF-US, Ministry of Fisheries, Deepwater Group Limited, Clement and Associates, the Seafood Industry Council, and the Department of Conservation.

–release ends–

Background notes

Known as the seabird capital of the world, New Zealand is of global significance in terms of seabird diversity. Of the world’s 359 seabird species:

-nearly 25 per cent (84 species) breed in New Zealand;

-of these 84 species, 35 breed nowhere else in the world;

-about 60 per cent of New Zealand seabird species regularly forage more than 50 km offshore.

Southern Seabird Solutions is an alliance of New Zealand and international interest groups working together to solve the incidental capture of seabirds during longline and trawl fishing.

The organisation includes representatives from government departments, fishing industry, environmental groups, eco-tourism operators, fisheries trainers, indigenous fisheries interests and others.

A core premise of Southern Seabird Solutions is that fishermen hold the key to finding solutions to stopping seabird mortalities. Southern Seabird Solutions works with fishermen to pass on their knowledge, technology and skills to promote good practices in the longline and trawl fisheries.

There are ways to fish that avoid catching seabirds and many of them are simple, cheap and easy to use. Many of the techniques and practices promoted by Southern Seabird Solutions have been developed by fishermen, for fishermen.

The organisation’s scope extends beyond New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone because seabirds that breed in New Zealand territory are global travellers, roaming the oceans as far afield as southern Africa, Australia, Japan, and North and South America.

The Trust is supported financially by government through the Department of Conservation and the fishing industry through the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and WWF-NZ. Funding for the Trust’s projects comes from a variety of sources both within and outside New Zealand, and includes financial contributions from supporters, grants, sponsorship and services in kind.

The types of projects Southern Seabird Solutions engages in includes:

§ exchanges of crews and technologies between fleets in different countries;
§ hosting national and regional fishermen forums to enable fishermen from different fleets to exchange ideas and information;
§ encouraging countries to join the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels;
§ gathering and reviewing information about where birds feed, and their overlap with fisheries.


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