Fishers commit to seabird smart fishing

Commercial fishers continue to swap tips and techniques to keep seabirds away from their boats at seabird smart fishing workshops around NZ...


Over 180 skippers and crew from NZ inshore commercial fishing fleets have attended our one-day seabird smart training workshops to increase understanding about NZ seabirds and ways of reducing    fishing-related seabird injuries or death.

The vice-president of the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen’s Association and fleet manager for Pegasus Fishing, Allan Rooney, hailed the recent workshop in Christchurch a success. 

“Local fishermen are already aware of the need to keep seabirds safe from harm while they’re out on the water, so it was a good chance to share their knowledge of what works and also get the most up-to-date information about seabirds,” he says. 

Southern Seabird Solutions Convenor Janice Molloy says seabirds have learned to forage for food at the back of trawl and longline fishing vessels, which places them at risk of being caught on hooks or tangled in trawl gear. 

The content of each workshop is tailored to the needs of the particular fishing fleet attending, with information provided about local seabirds, the latest developments in seabird-smart fishing practices, how to care for seabirds if they are caught, and benefits for the fishing industry of being seabird-smart.  

Allan has been in the fishing business for 40 years and was impressed with the fishers’ knowledge about seabirds and their interest in new techniques available to avoid seabirds.  

“We see a great variety of seabirds out at sea, including albatrosses, petrels and seagulls. We’re always keen to find ways to keep these birds away from our fishing boats and today’s workshop gave us some new ideas to do exactly that,” he says.   

Nine skippers and fleet managers attended the recent Christchurch workshop, including Tim Stark of Ocean Fisheries based in Lyttelton.  Ocean Fisheries has been a family business operating out of Lyttelton for 45 years.

“While there are already a lot of good seabird mitigation devices, we looked at how we could develop a generic device that could be simple and easy to use for all fishers.  I found it a very productive and informative day.”  

The workshops are funded by local fishing associations and companies, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Department of Conservation.