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New Zealand is home to the greatest diversity of seabirds on earth, and many of these are international travellers that come here to breed. Such diversity, coupled with large numbers, makes seabird-smart fishing in New Zealand particularly challenging. Seabirds naturally flock around fishing vessels which sometimes results in seabirds getting struck by trawl cables, caught on or entangled in fishing gear.

To reduce interactions, we have worked hard to develop and implement seabird-smart fishing practices, many of which have proven successful and are now regarded as international best-practice. 

The Ministry for Primary Industries has undertaken a comprehensive risk assessment for 70 New Zealand seabirds. This risk assessment provides an indication as to which seabirds are at risk from commercial fishing. Current information shows that of the 70 seabirds assessed; only one had a median risk score that was higher than the level that should allow that species’ population to increase. This is great news as it demonstrates that fishing is not putting our seabirds at risk; that said we are committed to making improvements to our fishing practice to reduce that risk even further.

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand is very pleased to support a Department of Conservation initiative to improve risk mitigation in the fishery for highly migratory species (HMS).

Many fishers have undergone Seabird Smart Training to ensure the risk to seabirds is reduced. The industry is also currently implementing vessel-specific management plans to reduce the risk to seabirds. Measures include effective mitigation devices to deter seabirds from accessing the stern of the vessel where they may be caught, and good onboard practices to ensure bait and fish waste does not unnecessarily attract birds to the vessel. 

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand is also involved in Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, an innovative alliance with representatives from the seafood industry, Government and WWF-NZ that promotes seabird-smart practices in Southern Hemisphere fisheries.

National Plan of Action

The Ministry for Primary Industries has produced a National Plan of Action for Seabirds (NPOA – Seabirds) that documents New Zealand’s efforts to improve information, reduce risks and conserve seabirds within our waters. Fisheries Inshore New Zealand supports the NPOA – Seabirds and the collaborative approach that exists between all stakeholders.