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Prince Charles Highlights Royal Albatross Plight

Prince Charles attending event at Taiaroa Head to highlight efforts to reduce albatross deaths in fisheries

On 6 March a display celebrating the work of the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust will be launched at the Taiaroa Head Royal Albatross Centre, on Otago Peninsula.

Opening the display is the Minister of Fisheries, David Benson-Pope.

Among 150 guests to the private function will be His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who is an advocate for albatross and petrel conservation and the need to reduce the impacts of ocean fishing on these and other seabirds.

The interactive display explains the important role Southern Seabird Solutions plays in working with fishers to promote fishing practices that avoid the incidental capture or death of seabirds.

The group’s story is told through the eyes of four of its members – a conservationist, a seabird scientist, a fisherman and a Department of Conservation representative.

Southern Seabird Solutions convenor Janice Molloy of the Department of Conservation said today (Sunday 6 March) that the group she represents is very pleased to be able to provide information about its work in such a high profile location.

“It’s logical to be at New Zealand’s only mainland albatross colony to talk about what we are doing to stop catching albatrosses and petrels on fishhooks and in trawl nets.”

“We are fortunate in having Prince Charles as a guest at the launch of our display. His standing internationally on seabird conservation is such that his presence here today demonstrates the seriousness with which New Zealand is taking the bycatch issue.”

Death and/or injury of seabirds, particularly albatrosses and petrels, in trawl and longline fisheries is a global problem, Ms Molloy said.

The display explains Southern Seabird Solutions’ role in working with fishers to promote fishing practices that avoid the incidental capture or death of seabirds, as told by a conservationist, a seabird scientist, a fisherman and DOC representative.

The principal sponsor for the display is fishing company Sanford Ltd. Managing director Eric Barratt said: “Sanford Ltd is committed to doing what it can to reduce the impacts any of its vessels may have on seabirds, and is extremely proud to be the principal sponsor of the new display being launched at the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head.”

Southern Seabird Solutions is also grateful to WWF-New Zealand, DOC, Wild Press and OceanWings for their sponsorship, and the Otago Peninsula Trust for providing space within its visitor centre.

Background notes:

Why Seabird Conservation is Important

New Zealand is the “seabird capital of the world” – it is the world centre of seabird diversity. Of the world’s 359 seabird species: Nearly one-quarter breed in New Zealand - 84 species Of these 84 species, 35 (10 per cent of the total) breed nowhere else in the world New Zealand seabirds include representatives from 12 of the 20 seabird families New Zealand has a particularly high diversity of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters About 60 per cent of New Zealand seabird species regularly forage more than 50km offshore

There are solutions to the bycatch problem

There are ways to fish that avoid catching seabirds and many of them are simple, cheap and easy to use. Many of the techniques and practices promoted by Southern Seabird Solutions have been developed by fishers, for fishers. They include: Retaining offal on board so that birds are not attracted to the vessels Using tori lines (streamer lines) off the back of vessels to scare birds away from the baited lines Setting baited hooks at night, when they are harder to see Using weights on longlines to make them sink more quickly Using thawed baits which sink more quickly than frozen ones

Some New Zealand companies are also investing in research and development to reduce seabird bycatch.

For example, New Zealand Longline (a Sealord and Amaltal joint venture company) has been working hard to develop a special weighted line. This “autoline” has a lead core which makes it sink quickly, taking the baits out of the reach of birds. It also catches more of the target species.

Southern Seabird Solutions has also co-ordinated portside workshops for New Zealand fishers to educate skippers and crew about the issues and threats to seabirds, and sharing ideas and fishing practices that reduce seabird captures.

The Role of Southern Seabird Solutions

Southern Seabird Solutions was formed in 2002, and the charitable trust established in 2004 in response to the looming threat of seabird extinction from fishing practices.

Its purpose is to work with fishers throughout the southern hemisphere to develop and promote fishing practices that are safer for seabirds. Its members include fishers, representatives of the fishing industry, conservation organisations, marine eco-tourism operators and government agencies.

“A core premise of Southern Seabird Solutions is that fishers hold the keys to finding solutions to stopping seabird mortalities,” Janice Molloy says. “We help fishers pass on their knowledge, technology and skills to promote good practices in the longline and trawl fisheries.”

“The trust commissions research and provides publicity and recognition to fishers who are taking appropriate actions. It encourages ‘champions’ to spread the word about why they care about seabirds, and what they are doing to avoid catching them.”

The group’s scope extends beyond New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone because seabirds that breed in New Zealand territory are global travellers, roaming the oceans as far afield as southern Africa, Australia, Japan, and North and South America.

Funding for the Trust’s projects come from a variety of sources both within and outside New Zealand, and include financial contributions from supporters, grants, sponsorship and services in kind.

Its current and proposed projects include:

Fostering exchanges of crews and technologies between fleets in different countries; Hosting national and regional fishers forums to enable fishers from different fleets to exchange ideas and information; Employing advisory officers in South Africa and South America to work alongside skippers and crew; Encouraging countries to join the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels; Gathering and reviewing information about where birds feed, and their overlap with fisheries.

Thanking the Principal Sponsor

The display in the Royal Albatross Centre, Taiaroa Head, exists in large part thanks to the generosity of New Zealand seafood company, Sanford Limited.

Since 1999 Sanford Limited has adopted “Sustainable Seafood” as its motto and is a founder member of the New Zealand Business Council of Sustainable Development. Each year since 2000 it has published a comprehensive Sustainable Development Report (Triple Bottom Line) and became the first integrated seafood company in the world to obtain ISO 14001 certification – a status it maintains today.

Sanford Limited has been very active in seabird mitigation measures and is an active member of Southern Seabird Solutions. Its managing director, Eric Barratt, is a Southern Seabird Solutions Trustee, and vessel manager, Darryn Shaw, is on its management committee. Besides its organisational commitment, Sanford Limited strongly supports its skippers and crew to develop and use seabird-friendly fishing techniques and practices. One of its skippers, John Bennett, is a well-known seabird champion, and appears in the display.

Thanking Other Sponsors

The following organisations also generously contributed to the Southern Seabird Solutions display: WWF-New Zealand Department of Conservation OceanWings Wild Press

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