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 by 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.


Richard Wells of Deepwater Group said the seabirds most affected are several of the smaller albatross species (mollymawks) and diving birds such as white-chinned petrels and sooty shearwaters. Captures include birds that have entered the net or become entangled on top of it. Many are still alive after capture (30-60%) although their survival is not known after release.

As well as strict offal control the industry has tried several methods to reduce the incidence of seabird net captures. “We have recently tried some acoustic deterrent methods but these seem to only have a very short term effect on the birds’ behaviour. Our crews remove as many ‘stickers’ – the fish that are caught in the weave of the net - as possible before the net is shot away so the birds aren’t attracted to the net. Some vessels try to close the mouth of the net by turning the vessel while they are hauling. This may help, but we know it is not the complete answer.”

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