Big Angry Fish team help anglers avoid catching seabirds

14 Dec 2015

“Every seabird counts” is one of the messages in a video released today which gives anglers tips on how to avoid accidentally snaring a seabird. 

The video is part of a wider summer “seabird smart” campaign initiated by Southern Seabird Solutions Trust and supported by Forest & Bird to reduce the numbers of seabirds accidentally caught by recreational fishers.

New Zealand is called the seabird capital of the world - hosting more than one-third of the world’s seabirds – and many of our seabirds are as rare as land birds like kiwi – so avoiding catching just one seabird can have significant payback for population numbers.

According to Big Angry Fish presenter Milan Radonich, “Seabirds are nature’s fish finders, so we want to make sure they are still around to tell us where to go fishing.”
“There are three easy tips for being seabird smart when you fish,” says Milan. “Firstly fish tidy - keep all your bait stowed away and only bring out just what you need. Secondly fish quick - get the bait down deep and fast - to below where the birds are feeding. And thirdly deter or distract birds when setting or retrieving fishing gear.”

Forest & Bird’s Seabird Liaison Officer Emma Cronin says the campaign also provides information on what to do if you do accidentally catch a seabird while fishing.
 “Seabirds such as black petrel lay only one egg a year, and chicks need both parents feeding them to survive. There are only 2700 breeding pairs of these birds left and the only place they now breed is in the Hauraki Gulf – in particular on Great Barrier Island - so it’s vital that we protect and preserve these living taonga.”

“Every black petrel counts, particularly at this time of year when both parents are needed to raise the chick, so it’s really important to know how to avoid catching seabirds, and how to safely release them if you do,” said Emma Cronin.

Recreational anglers along the east coast and in the Hauraki Gulf often encounter the flesh footed shearwater which looks very like the black petrel but has pick feet.  It is also threatened by commercial and recreational fisheries interactions.

“These birds can be voracious when they are looking for food for their chicks, so it’s important to use the seabird smart fishing tips to prevent catching them. Forest & Bird is working with both recreational anglers and commercial fishers to protect all seabirds from accidental by-catch,” said Emma Cronin.

The seabird smart campaign also raises awareness of the multiple threats they face to their survival, such as predation while nesting on land and climate change. 
To see the video visit https://www.youtube.com/user/seabirds11

For more information about how to be seabird smart, visit www.southernseabirds.org. Forest & Bird will also be at major events throughout the Auckland region this summer promoting the “seabird smart” campaign.