Tini a Tangaroa Fisheries New Zealand is asking people to provide feedback on proposals to strengthen rules to protect against the accidental capture of seabirds in the surface longline fishing vessels.
"New Zealand is home to the most diverse seabird community in the world, including a large number of albatross and petrel species. We want to make sure these precious taonga are around for future generations," says Emma Taylor, director fisheries management.
The main threats faced by Tōroa/Antipodean albatrosses and Gibson’s albatrosses, which are classified as critically threatened, are climate change and fishing on the Pacific High Seas (outside New Zealand’s EEZ). Though likely to be much less, tōroa also face threats from surface longline fishing in New Zealand’s waters.
"There are around 24 surface longline vessels operating in New Zealand waters. This fishing method involves attaching hooks to a line and setting them at relatively shallow depths behind a fishing vessel, which can attract foraging seabirds targeting baits and discarded fish waste.
"Currently, these vessels are legally required to use a combination of mandated methods including tori lines (bird scaring streamers), and either weights to sink hooks quickly or setting lines at night to avoid catching seabirds. Alternatively, hook shielding devices may be used which protect the barb of the hook from foraging seabirds.
In New Zealand, fishers are legally required to report capture of protected species to Fisheries New Zealand.
The majority of our proposals look to strengthen seabird protection by increasing measures used by longliners operating in New Zealand waters to help reduce interactions with seabirds.
Summary of proposals:
- Option 1: Regulatory status quo.
- Option 2: Mandate additional "best practice" seabird mitigation measures.
- Option 3: Spatial/temporal use of "three out of three" (or hook-shielding devices).
- Option 4: Mandate "three out of three" (or hook-shielding devices) at all times.
"We encourage anyone with an interest to provide feedback before consultation closes at 5pm on Friday, 28 April 2023", says Emma Taylor.