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Conservation through Cooperation

29 October 2004

Southern Seabird Solutions Conservation through Cooperation

New Zealander on judging panel for international fishing gear competition aimed at reducing wildlife deaths Sealord vessel manager Malcolm McNeill has been invited to join the panel of judges for an International Smart Gear competition, looking for fishing gear designs that reduce wildlife deaths.

The competition was initiated by a United States-based coalition of fishermen, scientists and conservation groups which includes World Wildlife Fund, America’s National Fisheries Institute, the American Fisheries Society, the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources at Memorial University in Newfoundland and the Marine Wildlife Bycatch Consortium.

Malcolm McNeill is a former deep sea longline skipper and chair of the New Zealand Ling Longline Group which produced the Longline Code of Practice, aimed at reducing accidental seabird capture. He is also Sealord’s representative on Southern Seabird Solutions, an alliance of government departments, fishing companies, environmental groups, eco-tourism operators, seabird researchers and fisheries trainers working cooperatively to reduce the number of fishing-related seabird deaths in the southern hemisphere.

Southern Seabird Solutions’ current and proposed projects include: fostering exchanges of crew and technologies between fleets in different countries; developing and testing new technologies to reduce accidental sea bird capture; hosting national and regional fishers forums to enable fishers from different fleets to exchange ideas and information; and gathering and reviewing information about where birds feed, and their overlap with fisheries.

As part of his work with Southern Seabird Solutions, Malcolm McNeill recently visited Reunion Island to share information with French longline fishers about the range of fishing techniques available to catch fish without accidentally hooking seabirds. Sponsorship for the trip was provided by A.S. Fiskevegn, a Norwegian manufacturer of fishing gear, through its New Zealand/Australia agent, Gourock New Zealand.

“Most of the fishing practices used nowadays to avoid seabird captures have been developed by fishermen” says Janice Molloy Convenor of Southern Seabird Solutions “This competition will hopefully encourage more lateral thinking from fishermen and others interested in the issue. Malcolm will be able to make an important contribution to the judging panel by bringing a practical viewpoint to the assessment of entries.”

The contest, which is accepting entries until Dec 31, seeks innovative fishing gear that reduces bycatch – the accidental deaths of marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles and non-target fish species. The competition is open to anyone and will award a US$25,000 grand prize to the design judged to be the most practical, cost-effective method for reducing bycatch of any species. Two runner-up prizes of US$5,000 will be awarded. Details are available at www.smartgear.org.

Malcolm McNeill joins a panel which includes judges from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, the British Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, World Wildlife Fund, the U.S. National Fisheries Institute, the American Fisheries Society, the Fisheries Conservation Foundation, the Marine Wildlife Bycatch Consortium (comprised of the New England Aquarium, Duke University, the University of New Hampshire and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association), the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

ENDS

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