Forest & Bird is calling on New Zealanders to back strong rules to protect penguins, albatross, and other seabirds from fishing nets and hooks, as the Government releases its National Plan of Action on Seabirds for consultation.
“Ninety percent of New Zealand’s seabird species are in trouble, and the tragic reality is that at least 14 of them are being helped towards extinction by commercial fishing activity,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Sue Maturin.
“The National Plan of Action's vision of 'no fishing-related seabird captures' is a victory for everyone who's called for a zero bycatch goal. The fishing industry has said it also supports a zero bycatch goal. Now it’s time for them to support making this goal a reality.”
"To achieve this vision the plan needs binding actions to cut seabird bycatch, with penalties for non-compliance, and cameras or observers on all boats so that we know the job is being done," says Ms Maturin.
“In ten years, the fishing industry hasn't managed to reduce the rate of birds they catch or kill. Up to four thousand birds are estimated to have been captured on lines and in trawl nets last year, and the plan does not have an objective to drastically reduce this.
“After 10 years of unchanged bycatch rate, it is not acceptable that we leave it up to the industry to decide which actions to take,” says Ms Maturin.
"The plan does not require fisheries to achieve a year on year reduction in seabird deaths. Instead it has an objective that effectively means fishers will meet their targets even if they catch more than 3000 birds a year.
“Our seabirds need three things: A zero bycatch goal, binding actions to cut seabird bycatch year on year, and cameras or observers on all boats so that we know the job is being done.
"While some in the industry are doing their level best to reduce bycatch they are being dragged down by those who don’t. The NPOA - Seabirds will only succeed if there is 100% observer or camera coverage across all fisheries as without that there is no way of knowing whether the mitigations being used are effective and that sea bird bycatch is steadily reducing towards zero."
Download Forest & Bird's briefing on the NPOA - Seabirds here.