Protected marine species in New Zealand
Protected marine species in New Zealand include:
- all marine mammals
- all seabirds (except black-backed gulls)
- all sea turtles
- some coral species (black corals, gorgonian corals, stony corals, hydrocorals)
- some fish species (black-spotted grouper, white pointer sharks, spinetail devil rays, manta rays, basking sharks, nurse sharks, giant grouper).
The work we do to help protect marine life
Fishing activity can have an impact on the marine environment.
Under the Fisheries Act 1996, Fisheries New Zealand must manage the adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment. This includes any effects on protected species. To do this, we work with the Department of Conservation (DOC), tāngata whenua, and stakeholders (like commercial fishers).
We monitor the impact of fishing on protected species to see when we need to intervene. We also look at whether current management approaches are working well.
We do this in 4 stages by:
- gathering information
- making a scientific assessment
- deciding how to manage impacts
- monitoring and evaluating
Good information helps us understand the impacts of fishing on protected species and how best to manage them. We gather information on:
- the number of protected species that are impacted by fishing
- the consequences of this impact.
The number of protected species impacted by fishing
Fisheries New Zealand finds out how many protected species are impacted by fishing from:
- Fishers: Commercial fishers are required to report on captures of protected species. Fisheries New Zealand usually receives reports within 24 hours of the capture.
- Fisheries observers: Fisheries New Zealand employs around 100 Fisheries Observers. Forty-five (45) are deployed at any one time. They work on commercial fishing vessels to collect data and verify fishing-related activities, including interactions with protected species.
- On-board cameras: In 2019, trawl and set net vessels operating in core Māui dolphin habitats were fitted with onboard cameras as part of a proof-of-concept camera project. In 2022, we will begin a wider roll-out of cameras, which will see cameras used in those inshore fisheries most likely to capture protected species.
- DOC fisheries liaison programmes: The fishing industry voluntarily reports additional information on protected species captures.
Fisheries New Zealand regularly releases reports about the number of protected species accidentally caught by commercial fishers.
Seabirds and protected marine species caught by commercial fishers
The Conservation Services Programme run by DOC also monitors the impact of commercial fishing on protected species.
Find out more about the Conservation Services Programme – DOC
What else we need to know
To understand the consequence of fishing impacts on a particular species, it is important to know:
- how many of the species there are
- where they live
- what they eat
- how fast they grow and reproduce
- trends in the population size.
We work with DOC and our science providers to gather this information.
Making a scientific assessment
Once we have gathered the information, Fisheries New Zealand works with DOC to detect trends in the number of protected species that are captured by commercial fishing.
We also use spatial risk assessment models. These estimate the likelihood and consequence of protected species capture, based on where the fishing is taking place.
For species most at risk – like Hector’s and Māui dolphin and some seabirds – we will carry out a more specific spatial risk assessment to determine an estimate of the impact of commercial fishing.
Deciding how to manage impacts
Once the impact of commercial fishing on a protected species has been assessed, we decide:
- whether we need to intervene and act
- what type of action that should be.
Interventions are prioritised in areas with the biggest risks to protected species. We make plans to manage the impacts of fishing on protected species with:
- tāngata whenua
- scientific experts
- key stakeholders.
What we're doing to help specific protected species
We work with industry and other stakeholders to reduce the impact of fishing on protected species. Find out more about the work we do to protect:
Monitoring and evaluating
Even with measures put in place, our work is not done – things change. We continue to monitor performance and periodically review the overall approach. We want to make sure it remains effective and is getting the results we want.
Fisheries Act 1996 – NZ Legislation
Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 – NZ Legislation
Wildlife Act 1953 – NZ Legislation
Who to contact
If you have questions about how we manage the effects of fishing on marine life, email firstname.lastname@example.org
People who kill or injure protected wildlife must report it to a conservation officer or MPI fishery officer. This includes if it's caused by recreational or commercial fishing activity.