Over 86 types of sea-birds breed in New Zealand giving us the title of seabird capital of the world.
Once New Zealand was filled with bustling colonies of gannets, penguins, shags, petrels, albatrosses, terns and skua however now these are just vestiges of their original size and many are confined to offshore islands
Rewind 800 years and you would have found a country so riddled with sea-bird-burrows it was hard to walk for fear of falling into a seabird’s home.
The decline of our sea-bird populations is due to a trio of factors - fishing, predation and habitat decline.
These birds – who spend most of their time at sea – have chosen New Zealand as their breeding and nursery ground.
Unfortunately, however, this nursery stage makes them particularly vulnerable. One parent looks after the chick and the other will head out to sea to feed the family.
Predation on the nest, or capture by a fishing line has the ability to devastate populations and wipe out the next generation.
As the ‘seabird capital of the world’ we believe that we should be lead the world in sea-bird conservation – unfortunately this is not the case.
Below are some of the projects we're working on to halt population decline amongst our seabirds.
Our Kaikoura branch has been actively involved in creating a third breeding site for our nationally endangered Hutton’s shearwaters. Recently a predator proof fence has been erected around their breeding site. More
Our Otago branch has erected a predator proof fence around the only mainland breeding site for Fairy Prion. The site has now been fitted with 200 nesting boxes which will allow the colony to grow. . More
To support the remaining population of Blue Penguins on the coast of Wellington, we’ve dotted their nesting grounds with nest-boxes and planted it up to provide natural cover from predators. . More
We’re working to save our critically endangered fairy tern whose population sits at just over 40 individuals. Like us, fairy terns are beach-goers. However, they’re easily frightened and become quickly stressed, so disturbance by visiting beach-goers, dogs and vehicles can cause them to abandon their nests, or chicks. It can even prevent them from looking for a mate, or breeding! We’re looking for breeding sites that are free of people and large coastal developments, so our Fairy Tern can nest and breed in relative peace. . More
New Zealand is the breeding and nursery ground for more than half of the world’s 22 albatross species. However six of these species, including the royal albatross, are now facing population decline from fishing threats such as long-lining and trawling. Every year up to 40,000 albatrosses and petrels have been killed during fishery operations within New Zealand’s 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. We’re working to lobby the government to change their practises. . More
Chatham Island Taiko
This sea-bird is one of our most mysterious and for many years it was thought to be extinct until a remnant population was discovered on a cliffside on the Chatham Islands in 1978. Our international partner Birdlife International has funded a predator proof fence, monitoring and sound-anchoring technology to ensure this population has a fighting chance of survival.
On top of this, Forest and Bird is –
- Creating a map of Marine Important Bird Areas which will guide our advocacy work to protect seabirds at seas.
- Helping to develop the Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan to reduce threats to our threatened birds, such as our Black Petrel.
- Working to implement the National Plan of Action for Seabirds by working with Ministry of Primary Industries to improve fishing practises to protect seabirds.