Looking for Bright Ideas

Image: Ros Wells 

We're looking for bright ideas on how to keep seabirds safe from trawl nets.

We'd love to hear from anyone from any background who has a new idea, knows of a product or technology, or line of enquiry we could follow. Send us your ideas by 15th December 2018 so we can evaluate promising solutions. We've made up a form to help you explain your idea to us or submit your idea online here




How seabirds are caught

Seabirds are seeking fish or other food in the trawl net and can get caught:

  • inside the net

  • in the mesh 'wings' of the net, on floats or other net parts

  • by the mesh on top of the net

Seabirds are caught when the net is being set (shot away), as well as when it is hauled.

Some seabirds are alive when brought on board so we know they are caught during the haul period. We presume that live birds inside the net are caught just before the net is brought on board the vessel.

The main species that are caught in New Zealand are shearwaters, petrels and smaller albatrosses (mollymawks). These birds stand on top of the net and risk getting their feet, wingtips, or head caught in the moving mesh. As well, petrels and shearwaters swim underwater around the mouth of the net and can become caught inside the net, in the side wings of the net or other parts of the fishing gear. Some of these species can dive to deep depths so may be getting caught some distance away from the vessel.




Some useful information about the vessels

The vessels are mid water and demersal factory processor stern trawlers 45 - 105m in length. They fish 24 hours a day. The net opening is large (e.g. 60m), and nets can surface several hundred metres behind the vessel. The cod end mesh is a usually minimum of 100mm (60mm in squid and southern blue whiting fisheries), and the remainder of the net mesh and wing mesh size varies depending on the gear itself. The vessels retain offal and fish waste on board during the hauling and shooting process, to reduce attractiveness of the vessel to seabirds at those times.

Mid water trawl net

Demersal Trawl Net

What we are already doing or have tried:

  • Keeping offal and fish waste on board is very important

  • Removing as many 'stickers' (fish that are caught in the weave of the net) as possible before the net is shot away

  • Some vessels attempt to close the mouth of the net by turning while they are hauling

  • Vessels undertake shooting and hauling as quickly as possible

  • Blasts of sound from orchard bird scarers have been used on longliners but seem to have more effect on crew than on the birds!

Tell us about seabirds in your fleet

A problem shared is a problem halved. We're keen to learn if other countries share this same issue, and exchange ideas. Get in touch and we can learn from each other.

Get in touch

We're keen to hear your ideas. Please fill in the printable form and send it to us, or submit your idea online here. For more information contact info@southernseabirds.