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Have your say on seabird protection measures

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Seabird protection measures

Photo: JJ Harrison | licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Tini a Tangaroa Fisheries New Zealand is asking people to provide feedback on proposals to strengthen rules to protect against the accidental capture of seabirds in surface longline fishing vessels.

“New Zealand is home to the most diverse seabird community in the world, including a large number of albatross and petrel species. We want to make sure these precious taonga are around for future generations,” said Emma Taylor, director of fisheries management.

Tōroa/Antipodean albatrosses and Gibson’s albatrosses, which are classified as critically threatened, face significant threats from climate change and fishing on the Pacific High Seas (outside New Zealand’s EEZ), said Fisheries New Zealand. Although less likely, tōroa also face threats from surface longline fishing in New Zealand’s waters.

There are 24 surface longline vessels operating in New Zealand waters, which involves attaching hooks to a line and setting them at relatively shallow depths behind a fishing vessel. This method can attract foraging seabirds, who may target baits and discarded fish waste, said Taylor.

“Currently, these vessels are legally required to use a combination of mandated methods including tori lines (bird-scaring streamers), and either weights to sink hooks quickly or setting lines at night to avoid catching seabirds. Alternatively, hook shielding devices that protect the barb of the hook from foraging seabirds may be used.

In New Zealand, fishers are legally required to report the capture of protected species to Fisheries New Zealand.

Fisheries New Zealand said the majority of the proposals look to strengthen seabird protection by increasing measures used by longliners operating in New Zealand waters to help reduce interactions with seabirds.

Summary of proposals:

  • Option 1: Keep current regulatory settings
  • Option 2: Introduce additional seabird mitigation measures
  • Option 3: Time/area-specific requirement for the use of three mitigation measures OR hook shielding devices
  • Option 4: Requirement to use three mitigation measures at all times OR hook shielding devices.

“We encourage anyone with an interest to provide feedback before the consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 28 April 2023,” said Taylor.

More information, including how to make a submission, is available at mpi.govt.nz.

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