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Global Overview Of Seabird Techniques

Global Overview Of Seabird Techniques

Fishers will gain a global understanding of seabird mitigation techniques at the annual NZ Seafood Industry conference in Auckland tomorrow.

One of the keynote speakers at the two-day conference is Ed Melvin, who was appointed Global Seabird Mitigation Coordinator at last year’s International Fishers’ Forum in Hawaii.

As part of his job, he monitors techniques being adopted by fishing industries around the world to prevent seabirds being accidentally caught and killed in the course of commercial fishing. He also instigates research into new techniques, identifies sources of funding and puts key people in touch with each other.

Mr Melvin is a fisheries biologist with the University of Washington, principal investigator of the seabird mitigation programme in Alaska’s long-line fisheries, and he is currently on sabbatical leave working with the Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania, Australia.

His research of the past nine years has focused on developing seabird mitigation strategies for drift gillnet and longline fisheries.

Mr Melvin will speak from his Alaskan experience of seabird mitigation and look at how New Zealand and Australia are performing.

“New Zealand has an amazing range of seabirds, more than any other nation, and I have to say that it is among a handful of countries leading the way on this issue of seabird mortality,” he says.

“At the same time, many challenges remain and further strategies are required globally to improve the outlook for seabirds.”

He supports the work of Southern Seabird Solutions, an alliance of government departments, fishing companies and a number of environmental groups which promotes the adoption of fishing practices to reduce the mortality of seabirds in the southern hemisphere.

Fishing industries already have a range of measures to choose from to reduce the likelihood of seabirds being caught, and more measures are being developed. Techniques include the use of: bird-scaring lines to keep seabirds away from the sinking baits, blue-dyed bait (the birds don’t recognise the bait), devices to set fishing lines underwater, loud sounds and bright lights to scare away the birds, weights attached to the fishing lines so that baits sink faster, and night-setting so the baits are less visible.

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