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New regulations welcome but swordfish fishery must

6 December 2006 - Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

New regulations welcome but swordfish fishery must close

Forest & Bird is today calling on Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton to immediately close the Kermadec swordfish fishery until he sets regulations that require night setting in this and all other longline fisheries in the New Zealand EEZ.

The minister last week proposed emergency measures to close the swordfish fishery around the KermadecIslandsand to require all longline vessels in New Zealand’s EEZ to set their lines at night to avoid seabird bycatch. This was in response to an observed incident in which a single vessel (Seawin Emerald) caught 51 albatrosses and 2 sea turtles. However, today he stopped short of doing this and instead has proposed consulting on weaker measures.

"New Zealand’s new swordfish fishery is clearly problematic and should be closed until the minister introduces regulations requiring all longlining vessels to set their lines at night, which are not expected until early in the New Year,” Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowlessays.

“This would prevent vessels killing more albatrosses and send a strong message that seabird bycatch will not be tolerated in New Zealandwaters. Without immediate emergency measures, however, there is nothing in place to prevent licensed vessels targeting swordfish and catching more albatrosses.”

“Swordfish fisheries notoriously have a higher rate of bycatch than tuna fisheries,” Kirstie Knowlessays. “Swordfish fisheries off Hawaii, for example, were closed in March 2006 because of their marine turtle and albatross bycatch.

Tuna and billfish fishing effort in Australian waters is also being scaled back. With no bycatch mitigation measures required in the swordfish fishery when it opened in New Zealandin October, it is no surprise that this fishery is experiencing bycatch problems similar to those experienced overseas.”

Ends


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