2012 Recipient Adam Clow

Adam is a skipper on the Southern Cross, a snapper long-liner fishing out of Whitianga for OPC Aotearoa Fisheries. He's been a skipper for three years and is proud of his family connection with the sea.

"I'm a third generation fisherman so I've been on boats since I was old enough to fish", he says. "It comes naturally now. My father is still fishing - he loves it as well.

The Southern Cross targets snapper and a range of other inshore species - red snapper, kingfish, hapuku, tarakihi and gurnard. Commonly seen birds include flesh-footed shearwaters, black petrels at certain times of the year and further from the shore, albatross and giant petrels.

"Everyone on board is a nature lover, so we definitely don't want to catch birds. It's just common sense to use all the mitigation techniques we need to keep the birds away. It's a great thing to be catching fish and not birds.

Adam usually sets in the dark, uses tori lines off either side of the boat and adds heavy weights to sink the line quickly if there are birds around. He has found that reducing speed during the set has also been very effective.

"Slowing the boat down so the line sinks quickly has been a big one for us. We find that if we can keep the birds away for half an hour or so, they give up and move on. Every day is different so we just customise the set to deal with the conditions.

"I've found the Seabird Smart workshops really good for learning new stuff and for trying out new techniques.

Adam is keen to make it clear that reducing seabird bycatch is up to every fisher. "We're not a special boat doing special things - everyone else is out there pulling their weight as well. It's a team effort.

He also believes that being 'eco-friendly' and having the least possible effect on the environment is a big issue now.

"I think fishermen like us who are in the game for life are having to grab hold of these ideas and go with them. Ten years ago it wasn't such an issue, but now it's part of our job to be caring for the environment. We're trying to tell the public about the good stuff we're doing and we really preach it. At the end of the day, we want to be able to hold our heads up high when we say that we're fishermen.

Adam, along with Zak Olsen, who also won a Seabird Smart award in 2012, was privileged to meet Prince Charles, patron of Southern Seabirds Solutions Trust, at Government House during his visit to New Zealand in November 2012.

"I'd like to thank Southern Seabird Solutions for getting the ball rolling with the fishermen - I'd like to see more of it happening too. I'm only a small cog, but winning the award has given me the chance to tell lots of people what we're up to and it's good that they can see how proactive we are."