Collaboration and trust key to preventing seabirds being killed by commercial fishing

Black petrel/taiko were welcomed back to New Zealand this morning after their long journey from South America. At Great Barrier Island/Aotea to welcome them home were local iwi and Great Barrier Island community and members of the Black Petrel Working Group.

The return of black petrel is significant as for the past year the working group – which consists of representatives from the fishing industry, government and conservationists- has been working hard to reduce the number of black petrels killed accidentally through fishing.

Forest & Bird seabird advocate Karen Baird says the working group relies on trust and strong relationships to work.

“There are encouraging signs that the fishers themselves are taking the issue seriously. Rules and regulations are all well and good but it is the fishers themselves who are out there interacting with the birds who have to take personal responsibility to reduce seabird captures. Having a plan to help them do that and a desire to do just that will make all the difference”, said Karen Baird.

“Seabird bycatch in New Zealand is still a huge issue. The 2013 commercial fisheries Government risk assessment indicates 19 seabird species out of 70 that were assessed in NZ are at risk from population level impacts from commercial fisheries including Black Petrel at the top of the list.”

“We hope that by continuing to work together this will translate into reduced captures of birds this summer – and ultimately zero seabird bycatch,” said Karen Baird.

Ms Baird also said “The next big thing we can do for black petrel/taiko on Great Barrier Island will be to make the island predator free. Then NZ will have done everything it can to ensure these birds can thrive”.

As the leading independent conservation organisation in New Zealand, Forest and Bird’s role in the Black Petrel Working Group is to be a voice for nature and represent the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who don’t think seabird deaths on the scale that they are occurring in NZ is acceptable.

Forest & Bird is campaigning to ‘Save our Seabirds’ through a number of initiatives alongside involvement with the Black Petrel Working group including a campaign this summer to build more awareness amongst recreational fishers of how they can avoid seabird bycatch.

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