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New measures will cut seabird deaths

21 February 2008 - Wellington


Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

 

New measures will cut seabird deaths

New measures announced today will significantly reduce the number of seabirds killed in New Zealand fisheries, Forest & Bird says.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says he is delighted by the set of measures announced by Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton to reduce by-catch of vulnerable seabirds in New Zealand fisheries.

He says the measures put in place a comprehensive minimum set of requirements for all trawl and longline fisheries which bring them closer to best practice used in fisheries internationally.

“The measures are those considered to be most effective in a worldwide review of mitigation conducted by BirdLife International and Forest & Bird.  The introduction of these measures will lead to significant reductions in fishing mortalities of vulnerable seabird species.”

In addition to measures which deter birds from seizing fishing baits and getting caught in fishing nets, the measures also address one of the key causes of seabird mortality – attraction of birds to fishing vessels to feed on the discharge of fisheries waste.  The measures make an important step in requiring fisheries to limit waste discharge during parts of the fishing operation that are dangerous for seabirds.

The measures were likely to carry relatively few financial implications for the great number of the responsible fishers who are already using these practices, Kevin Hackwell says.

“By implementing a comprehensive set of regulations, the Minister is creating the ability to enforce these good practices across the entire fishing fleet, and requiring poor fishers to improve their environmental practice.”

 

The most important step not covered by the new measures is the introduction of much higher levels of monitoring of by-catch and meaningful penalties for those fishers who don’t comply with regulations.  While Forest & Bird applauds the important steps taken in today’s announcements, it encourages the Minister to also consider these further steps in future.

 

Background

It is estimated that between 2000 and 10,000 seabirds are killed annually in New Zealand trawl and longline fisheries, of which around 900-1500 are albatrosses, mainly killed in trawl fisheries.
Scientific observers recorded 31 species of seabird caught in trawl and longline fishing from 1998-2004. Eighteen of these species are listed as threatened with extinction.
Albatrosses are the most threatened family of birds in the world, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (see www.iucnredlist.org).
Albatrosses are the key species caught as by-catch in New Zealand deepwater trawl fisheries for squid and hoki, with around half of the by-catch in these fisheries being albatrosses.
More than half of the world’s albatrosses are found in New Zealand, and all of those breeding in New Zealand waters are listed as threatened.
 

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