2018 Projects


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

The New Zealand fishing industry has made good progress in reducing the numbers of seabirds killed in hitting the wire cables connecting the trawl net to the vessel, and attention is now focussed on reducing captures of seabirds in or on the trawl net itself. 

Learn more about what we're trying to solve here. This project is sponsored by the Department of Conservation, Sealord Group and Deepwater Group. 




2017 Projects

Southern Seabird Solutions runs a series of projects each year aimed at reducing harm to seabirds from fishing. We take a collaborative approach to our project work and each year have the opportunity to work with a fantastic and committed range of fishers, iwi, scientists, anglers, fishing companies, agency staff and other organisations.

Our projects are generated from our Strategic Plan 2016-2020 and reported annually via our Annual Report. Our projects are financed and resourced via sponsorship and significant in-kind support.

Seabird Smart Awards

2015 Seabird Smart Award recipients with Hon Maggie Barry, Minister for Conservation

Every two years we run our National Seabird Smart Awards. 

The Awards are an opportunity to recognise leaders and highlight the efforts being made by fishers and those involved with the fishing industry to look after New Zealand seabirds.

Individuals, companies, vessel crews, or anyone involved in fishing who is committed to making a real difference for seabirds, can be nominated for the awards. 

Nominations for the 2017 Awards open mid June and can be filled out online or via a nomination form. 

More information on past award recipients and how to make a nomination for the 2017 awards click here.

Seabird Smart Fishing Workshops for Skippers and Crew

2016 Napier workshop participants

Over the past five years we have run a series of interactive workshops around the country for inshore commercial fishers.  The workshops aim to build on fishers knowledge of local seabird species and seasonal patterns, provide up to date information on mitigation devices and practices, and build an understanding of why and how looking after seabirds is part of everyday fishing practice. Over 210 fishers have attended workshops to date.  Further detail on Seabird Smart Training Workshops

Seabird Smart Workshops are jointly funded by DOC, MPI and fishing companies/associations.

Related news articles:

Napier Commercial Fishermen Promote Seabird Smart Fishing

Whitianga - Hub of Seabird Smart Fishing

Sanford Skippers and Crew Get Seabird Smart

FMA1 Collaborative Black Petrel Working Group

The Working Group held a Haere mai taiko/Welcome home black petrel event in 2015

Fisheries Management Area 1 (FMA1) covers inshore waters from East Cape to North Cape. It is an important fishing area for both commercial and recreational fishers. It is also a significant feeding and breeding ground for the rare black petrel.

In 2014 Southern Seabird Solutions set up a collaborative working group including iwi, staff from the fishing companies, government agencies and NGOs with an interest in FMA1. The group signed a pledge to reduce the risk to seabirds from fishing and has undertaken several initiatives towards this goal. For the start of the 2016/17 fishing season (1 October), almost all skippers on vessels in the area will have completed Seabird Smart Fishing Training and have Seabird Management Plans on-board.  

Related news items:

A new tool to monitor seabird captures in fishing

Resourcefulness meets technology

Seabird Smart Recreational Fishing Culture

We encourage anglers to have the gear they need to release a seabird in their tackle box

In the past two years the Trust has stepped up its recreational fishing programme thanks to funding and support from the Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries, and organisation's and individuals in the recreational fishing sector.  With this support, we have been able to attend several boating events, visit fishing clubs, run media articles, produced a series resources for anglers and talk with hundreds of anglers about seabird smart fishing. 

Our focus in 2017 is to continue to build support for seabird smart recreational fishing messages and ultimately reduce the rate of capture of seabirds by anglers.

Sponsors of our 2017 recreational fishing work include Waikato Regional Council Environmental Enhancement Fund, the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust and Ministry for Primary Industries. 

Related news articles:

Seabirds from the flybridge

Nelson recreational anglers urged to keep seabirds safe

Always be prepared - keep you seabird release kit on-board

Seabird Colony Visits

Fisherman (and contortionist!) Darren from Leigh Fisheries reaching down a burrow to pull out a young black petrel.


Since 2013 fishers have been crawling through undergrowth,  stretching their arms down burrows, and getting bitten by seabirds, all in the name of science. Southern Seabirds facilitates these trips as part of our Seabird Smart Training Programme.  The trips have won over many fishers to the specialness of seabirds and have also enabled fishers and seabird scientists to share their knowledge.  Some fishers have returned year after year to help out. Fishers have weighed and banded young black petrel on Great Barrier Island/Aotea, set up acoustic monitoring devices on Little Barrier Island/Hauturu, cradled yellow-eyed penguin chicks and spent an evening with Westland black petrel.

In 2017, in addition to these more regular trips, we hope to visit Ohinau (Mercury Islands Group) and other colonies in the South Island.

Related articles

Fishermen swap their sea boots for tramping boots

Otago fishermen become expert 'penguin wranglers'

Black beautiful and endangered

'Off the Beaten Track' with Kennedy Warne


Stocktake of Mitigation Measures

Tori lines are one of the most effective ways to scare seabirds away from fishing lines

Fishers need practical mitigation devices and practices that are effective across the range of sea conditions they face.  Bird bafflers, warp scarers, hook pods and lumo leads.  This stocktake covers all these weird and wonderful inventions, designed to keep seabirds safe from harm around fishing vessels.  Our new report describes these inventions and all other measures that are suited to the types of commercial fishing carried out in New Zealand.  We assess the extent to which each measure has been developed and tested, and hurdles that might need to be overcome for the measure to be used more widely.  This work was undertaken by Graham Parker of Parker Conservation, and generously funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Sealord Group, Deepwater Group and WWF-NZ.

Related news articles:

Underwater bait setter gets fishermen's tick of approval

Crossing the ditch in search of mitigation ideas

High Sea's Fishing Vessel Resources

MPI International Fisheries Officers wearing Catch Fish Not Seabirds t-shirts

The Trust works with several international organisations, such as ACAP, Birdlife International and ProDelphinus, to support projects that reduce risk to seabirds from fishing. 

In 2016, we designed a resource pack and 'Catch Fish Not Seabirds' T-shirts for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) international fisheries inspections on high seas vessels.  We will continue this work in 2017.

Related articles:

Mission on the high seas

Past projects

Past projects include Seabird Experience on the Interislander, and the development of several resources that can be viewed in our Resource Hub.