Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Yellow-eyed penguin crisis requires urgent Govt action

Yellow-eyed penguin crisis requires urgent Govt action

Nearly half the breeding population of endangered hoiho (yellow-eyed penguins) on the island sanctuary of Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) have disappeared at sea, and Forest & Bird says the evidence indicates they most likely drowned in a commercial set net.

Forest & Bird is calling on the Government to urgently call together Ngāi Tahu, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Primary Industries, community organisations and scientists who work to protect hoiho.

"We're also calling on the fishing industry to agree an immediate set of actions to eliminate the risks from set netting in the penguins' feeding areas," says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.

Hoiho are the world’s most endangered penguin species, whose breeding numbers in the South Island have been falling year on year since 2005. This year, alongside continued decline across all their mainland nesting colonies, a scientific survey has shown that nearly half the birds from the sanctuary island Whenua Hou have disappeared.

"This bird is so special that it appears on New Zealand’s five dollar note. The critical information about the Whenua Hou catastrophe should not have been held back from the public. Instead we need honest conversation with New Zealanders spelling out the actions that will be taken to prevent it happening again.

“Unlike previous years where disease and high temperatures caused deaths on land, this year birds have disappeared at sea. There is an active set net fishery within the penguins’ Whenua Hou foraging ground, and the indications are that nearly half the Whenua Hou hoiho population has been drowned in one or more of these nets.

“We are asking DOC and MPI what they intend to do to save our hoiho from extinction, because at current rates of decline we are on track to lose hoiho completely from mainland New Zealand. We have also written to the Minister of Conservation, expressing our concern.

"Why is the Recovery Plan for hoiho still not written? Why has MPI not convened the working group on managing threats to hoiho from the fishing industry?" asks Mr Hague.

Earlier this year, Forest & Bird released data from MPI that showed only 3% of the set net fishery had MPI observers on board, yet nearly all recorded penguin deaths came from the tiny minority of boats with observers.

“It's simply unbelievable that almost every penguin killed in the set net fishery was killed on a boat that had an official observer on board. As a first step, MPI needs to get more of their observers onto set net vessels and prioritise putting cameras on set netting boats.

“Responsible set netters need to ask the question of their fellow fishers - why is it that the only recorded bykill of penguins appears to be on monitored fishing vessels?” says Mr Hague.

As well as the disappearance of nearly half the hoiho on Whenua Hou, hoiho have also declined elsewhere this year:
• The Catlins, a traditional hoiho stronghold, has seen a drop of 10% in nests
• Otago Peninsula has shown a small (provisional) decline but not all areas have been searched yet
• The estimate for the entire southern east coast of the South Island is down 6%.
Photos of hoiho drowned in set nets can be found here.

End release

Preliminary survey numbers as provided by the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust:

Most of this year’s nest searches have now taken place, so we can give a preliminary assessment of trends though we are not yet able to confirm the final number by site or provide a more definitive season estimate for the southern South Island. As a basic summary, it looks like nest numbers are similar to last year from Dunedin northwards, but there are declines further south.
North Otago 50 nests at Moeraki, a similar number to last year.
Otago Peninsula has estimate of 90 nests and is trending slightly down on last year (-2%). Papanui Beach and Kumokumowhero (Penguin Beach) are the large sites still to be searched and could still change this preliminary estimate considerably.
Catlins show a decline with the current estimate of 108, down 10% from the 120 nests estimated last year.
• The estimate for the total southern east coast based on current counts is 246, down from 261 - a 6% decline.
• More concerning are the results from Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) where only 14 nests were found (24 last year). Nest counts of Yellow Eyed Penguins on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island have been steadily declining with a sharp decrease in the number of nests found this year. As Whenua Hou is a predator free island, terrestrial influences are unlikely to be the cause. More research is needed on the factors affecting the population of hoiho on Whenua Hou.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Yesterday’s Big Parliamentary Air Kiss To China

In order to obtain support from the two major parties, Act Party deputy leader Brooke Van Velden twice had to soften the language of her parliamentary motion yesterday condemning China’s persecution of the Uighurs. The key word “genocide” was deleted. Evidently, the kind of resolution passed by a conservative government in the UK proved to be far too tough for a centre-left Labour government and a centre-right National opposition to countenance. Yesterday, the two major parties were united in their fear of retribution from China... More>>


Government: Fair Pay Agreements To Improve Pay And Conditions For Essential Workers

The Government is delivering on its pre-election commitment to implement Fair Pay Agreements which will improve wages and conditions, as well as help support our economic recovery, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. More>>


Public Services: Government Sets Pay And Workforce Expectations For The Public Sector

The Government’s Workforce Policy Statement issued today sets out its expectations for pay and employment relations in the Public Sector, the Minister of Finance and Minister for the Public Service say. “New Zealand has had an exceptionally successful ... More>>


Government: Budget 2021 Reprioritises Nearly $1 Billion

Hon Grant Robertson Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Finance The Government’s strong pandemic response and the better than expected economic recovery means not all the money allocated in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has been spent, ... More>>


PM: Statement On The Speaker And Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. ... More>>

Parliament: Mallard Fails To Give Taxpayers A Straight Answer

Trevor Mallard has confirmed he is unfit to be Parliament’s Speaker by failing to answer several important questions relating to the false rape accusation saga that cost taxpayers more than $330,000, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says. ... More>>

Local Government: Independent Review To Explore Future

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an independent review of local government will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the communities they serve long into the future. More>>


PM Ardern And PM Morrison: Commencement Of Two-Way Quarantine-Free Travel Between Australia And New Zealand

Joint Statement by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern Commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand Today, Australia and New Zealand have fulfilled their commitment to establish two-way quarantine free ... More>>




InfoPages News Channels