The Black Petrel Action Group

As a result of the high level of concern about black petrels raised by the Ministry of Fisheries’ own Seabird Risk Assessment the Black Petrel Action Group was formed. 

Black Petrel, Terry Greene

Black Petrel, Terry Greene

Black petrels arrive in October from their winter foraging grounds, which stretch from New Zealand to the west coast of South America – the waters of Mexico, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Peru.  

They were once found throughout the North Island and Northwest Nelson but feral cats and pigs caused their extinction on the mainland from about the 1950s. Now they are mostly found around Hirakimata/Mt Hobson. 

The population has been declining by at least 1.4% per year since 1995.  They are at risk at sea and on land, classed as Nationally Vulnerable by DoC and they are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN Red list: Vulnerable.

Forest & Bird, Birdlife International, WWF-New Zealand, GBICT, Hauturu/Little Barrier Trust, Ngati Rehua/Ngati Wai ki Aotea, and leading seabird scientists from the Auckland Council and Wildlife Management International Limited have joined forces to promote awareness of the bird’s status to take action to protect it.  

What we consider particularly unacceptable is that mitigation measures exist which, if used, will prevent black petrel from being killed in highest-risk inshore fisheries.  We have written to the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation requesting action to: 

  •  Increase observer coverage of the inshore bottom longline and trawl snapper and bluenose fisheries, and/or install cameras on boats as is being trialled in Australia
  • Enforce existing regulations for the use of mitigation
  • Improve the effectiveness of regulated mitigations, especially around night setting
  • Trial an exclusion area around Black Petrel feeding grounds during breeding and chick rearing
  • Implement the revised National Plan of Action for Seabirds: The estimated annual potential fatalities across the four major fishing methods is between 13,600 and 16,600, despite New Zealand’s commitment to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) and other international agreements, and our claim to operate the most sustainable fisheries management system in the world.

What you can do

  • Write to the Minister of Fisheries and of Conservation (n.smith@ministers.govt.nz )asking for action to protect the Black Petrel and other seabirds
  • Write to or contact the local board and councillor (Mike Lee and Christine Fletcher for Auckland Central and Gulf Islands) and your MP and ask what they plan to do to protect the Black Petrel.
  • Go to our Black Petrel Action Group site on facebook and “like” it. 
  • Report any dead black petrels to Amelia Geary at DoC on Great Barrier – take photographs,  record the location and if possible, take it with you.  Dead birds can be frozen and analysed later.
  • Encourage any fishers you know to be responsible around seabirds, and especially black petrels, especially between December and May.