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Seabird Smart Awards’ winners the face of fishing’s future

Seabird Smart Awards’ winners the face of fishing’s future

Seabird smart fishers met the Prince of Wales yesterday evening at a “Conservation Champions” reception held at Government House, after receiving top honours earlier in the day in the 2012 Seabird Smart Awards.

Seabird Smart Awards

The prestigious conservation award was presented jointly to Zak Olsen of Whangarei, a 23-year-old skipper on Sanford long-liner San Kaipara, and Adam Clow of Whitianga, a 26-year-old skipper who contracts on long-liner Southern Cross for OPC Fish & Lobster

The Seabird Smart Awards, managed by Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, recognise those who demonstrate leadership or innovation in their approach to minimising risks to seabirds while fishing, as well as commitment to best practice seabird smart fishing methods

The two winners represent the future face of New Zealand’s fishing industry, two young men who go to great lengths to reduce risks to seabirds that may be injured or killed through foraging for food at the back of fishing vessels, says Janice Molloy, Chief Awards Judge and Trust Convenor.

“We believe that empowering fishers to find solutions to reduce seabird mortalities in fishing is one of the best ways of achieving progress. Because New Zealand waters are so rich in seabirds, Kiwi fishers face a particular challenge when it comes to seabird smart fishing,”

She says this year’s Awards attracted a record number of excellent entries, which made the judges’ decision particularly tough.

“Our joint winners are both great young role models when it comes to seabird smart fishing practice. They both have a strong personal interest in seabirds and do everything in their power to avoid harming them while they are fishing. Their passion and actions have positively affected the attitudes and behaviour of others on their vessels and in their fleets. This is the leadership we are looking for.”

2012 Seabird Smart Awards’ Winners

Zak Olsen has been fishing since he left school. Skippers and crew members who’ve seen him at work remark at the extreme lengths he goes to ensure seabird safety.

“What we do really works and we’ve had government cameras on board for 18 months to prove it,” says Mr Olsen, who adds the win is really for the whole San Kaipara crew.

“At the end of the day we do as much as we can to not catch seabirds and I think we do a pretty good job of it.”

Practices include using a bird-scaring tori line that has been adapted so it can be actively moved across the back of the boat to keep seabirds away from sinking baits during line-setting, extra weights to ensure the baited lines sink quickly, and ensuring no offal or old baits go over the side of the vessel when risks are high for seabirds.

A contractor to OPC Fish & Lobster, part of Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd, Adam Clow says fishing is in his blood.

“I’ve been fishing with the old man since I could walk, I love it.” He says his vision for fishing is all about sustainability and doing everything he can to reduce the risk to seabirds. “We are nature lovers on our boat – we really care about what goes on.”

That includes almost always setting the lines at dark to avoid seabirds, constantly monitoring the situation and stopping fishing if the birds become too bad, landing fish whole so no offal goes over the side of the vessel and using a bird-scaring tori line.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel – other long-line crews are doing what we’re doing. I believe younger fishermen’s mindsets have changed. They are there to do their job having as little impact on the environment as they can.”

Finalist and Highly Commended

Brian Kiddie, owner and operator of an inshore fishing boat based in Tauranga was named a finalist and met the Prince of Wales together with Mr Olsen and Mr Clow.

Jack Fenaughty, Managing Partner, Silvifish Resources Ltd and Peter Fullerton, Vessel Observer, Sealord were Highly Commended.

About Southern Seabirds Solutions Trust

The Trust is an innovative alliance of the New Zealand seafood industry, the New Zealand government, WWF and Te Ohu Kaimoana, formed in 2002 to reduce fishing-related harm to seabirds. The Trust has been running the Seabird Smart Awards since 2005. They are held every two or three years. www.southernseabirds.org/

The 2012 Seabird Smart Awards are sponsored by The Ministry for Primary Industries, Sealord Group and Sanford Ltd.


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