The National Plan of Action for Seabirds 2020 outlines our commitment to reduce fishing-related captures and associated seabird deaths. The new plan follows wide public consultation launched in November last year.
The plan focuses on innovative solutions and education to reduce seabird bycatch. It seeks to ensure fishing operators know how to avoid catching seabirds and take the appropriate steps to do so,” said Stuart Nash.
Aotearoa/New Zealand is a global hotspot for seabirds, including iconic albatross and petrel species that fly thousands of kilometres across the world’s oceans. The actions we take to look after them in New Zealand have a global impact,” said Eugenie Sage.
Seabirds are among the most threatened groups of birds globally. Fisheries bycatch is one of the greatest threats to many of them, along with invasive predators, disease, pollution, a changing climate and associated environmental change. That’s why the focus of the Action Plan is to reduce seabird deaths from fishing bycatch,” said Eugenie Sage.
The new National Plan of Action for seabirds plan will support all fishing interests to develop new bycatch mitigation practices and improve practices already in use. These include bird-scaring lines, weighted longlines, fishing at night, avoiding areas important to seabirds, and reducing discharge that attracts birds to fishing boats,” said Stuart Nash.
Some innovative solutions are already being used. Many current measures have come from industry, who have the technical knowledge needed for workable solutions,” he said.
The Action Plan has a vision of New Zealanders work toward zero fishing related seabird mortalities. We expect to see all fishers and the industry doing as much as they can to achieve this,” said Stuart Nash.
The new Action Plan will prompt species-specific actions where there is particular concern about threats to seabird populations. This has occurred already for Antipodean albatross and black petrels and is being done for hoiho (yellow-eyed penguin),” said Eugenie Sage.
The plan requires all fishing vessels at risk of accidentally catching seabirds to create risk management plans for protected species. These plans will be audited and regularly monitored against government standards” said Stuart Nash.
New Zealand is a global centre of seabird diversity with about 145 of the world’s 346 seabird species using New Zealand waters and 95 species breeding here. New Zealand has more endemic breeding species than any other country in the world. 90% of them are threatened with, or at risk of extinction.
145 of the world’s 346 seabird species use New Zealand waters and 95 seabird species breed here. The fact that so many species use New Zealand waters and breed here is a reason why New Zealand has more seabird species threatened or at risk of extinction than other countries.
The Plan provides clear goals and objectives, and is supported by an implementation plan for reducing fishing-related seabird deaths as well as putting in place tools to measure and report on progress annually.
While the focus of the Plan is on the commercial sector, from small family run boats to large factory boats, it also encompasses recreational fisheries that have an impact on seabirds.
Regulatory tools are also available to ensure the objectives of the Plan are met. The fishery industry needs to innovate to reduce bycatch. A collaborative approach can help to solve bycatch issues through prevention, monitoring, education and research.
Fisheries New Zealand and the Department of Conservation reviewed and updated the Plan with input from an advisory group of stakeholders. The Plan was publicly consulted on between November 2019 and January 2020 with over 3,700 submissions received.