Hauraki Gulf: A Global Hotspot for Threatened Seabirds

The Hauraki Gulf has long been a marine playground for Aucklanders and visitors to New Zealand’s largest city.

Our nationally threatened Black Petrel, Photo: Terry Greene.

Our nationally threatened Black Petrel, Photo: Terry Greene.

It is also a global hotspot for ground for wildlife and an important breeding ground for 25 species of seabird.

The world’s population of Buller’s shearwaters, black petrels and Pycroft’s petrels breed exclusively on the islands that dot the wider Hauraki Gulf.

It's the world’s most significant breeding ground for the Cook’s petrel, and coastal waters from the gulf and further north are visited by one-quarter of the world’s 360 seabird species.

Many of these seabirds are fighting for survival. They exist only on predator-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf and efforts are being made to boost their numbers and keep the islands predator-free.

By-catch from commercial fisheries is now the biggest threat to the survival of many of these already endangered seabirds.

Recent estimates suggest commercial fishing annually kills between 725 and 1,524
of the nationally-vulnerable black petrels.

Inshore fisheries pose the biggest threat as often there is minimal observer coverage and methods that aim to reduce by-catch are either ineffective or irregularly used. Recreational fishing can also endanger birds, by accidentally catching them on baited lines.