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Sand sculpture day to help save native seabirds

Giant seabirds will be created in the sand at Long Bay Regional Park this Sunday, January 19, to raise awareness of endangered seabirds around Auckland’s coasts.

Beachgoers of all ages can take part in the event, which is being organised by Auckland Forest & Bird Youth and Kiwi Conservation Club.

A third of the world’s 350 seabird species have been spotted in the Hauraki Gulf, says Auckland Forest & Bird Youth co-chair Connor Wallace.

These include rare Buller’s shearwaters and endangered black petrels, which are the most at-risk seabird from commercial fishing in New Zealand.

“The seabird sandcastle event will be fun and aims to raise awareness of the government process happening now that people can take part in if they want to help protect our seabirds,” says Connor.

"Far too many native seabirds are at risk of extinction.

“The sandcastles will wash away pretty fast, but the idea is people can do their bit to make sure our seabirds don’t disappear.”

The government’s draft National Plan of Action for Seabirds is open for public submissions until January 27. Forest & Bird has created an online submission form to help people have their say.

Seabird sandcastle events have also been held at Golden Bay, Westport, Christchurch and Dunedin over the past two weeks.

Forest & Bird southern regional manager Sue Maturin says about 14,000 seabirds a year get caught by the fishing industry.

The conservation organisation is calling on the government to commit to a zero bycatch goal, to set rules to cut seabird bycatch deaths, and to put cameras and observers on boats to monitor the impacts of commercial fishing.

“This is our opportunity to ask the government to ensure that the fishing industry is adopting best practices to avoid the bycatch of seabirds,” says Sue.

The free seabird sandcastle event at Long Bay Regional Park is from 10am to 2pm on January 19. Bring a picnic lunch, water, buckets and spades, sunhats and sunscreen.

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