Sanford skippers and crew get Seabird SMART

The San Kaipara, fishing for Sanford, have tori-lines on outriggers so they can be used on all sides of the vessel.

“Our message to fishermen is that every seabird counts - as do the efforts of every fisherman” says Janice Molloy of Southern Seabird Solutions Trust who recently coordinated a Seabird SMART Fishing workshop with skippers and crew from Sanford.


Sanford takes seabird smart fishing seriously. Volker Kuntzsch, CEO, opened the training workshop and told the fishermen that the fishing industry needs a ‘social licence’ to operate, and looking after seabirds while fishing was a critical part of this. Volker visited the black petrel colony on Aotea/Great Barrier Island in February and encouraged as many Sanford fishermen as possible to make the trip.

Sanford has supported the workshop series since it began and coordinated their schedules to allow skippers and crew from trawl, bottom longline and Danish seine vessels to attend. The auction manager of the Sanford Auckland Fish Market also attended with an eye to encouraging the training throughout their market and supplier networks.

Southern Seabird Solutions Trust first ran the training programme in 2012 and since then have trained over 160 skippers from different companies in 14 ports around NZ.  The 2015 refreshed training programme puts greater emphasis on the key seabirds in the fishermen’s local area that are at risk from fishing. It also reinforces the importance of having a ‘first line of defence’ to keep seabirds away from fishing gear, as well as back up plans and contingency equipment for those occasions when large numbers of hungry seabirds arrive en-masse from overseas during summer.

“We emphasise that it is important to treat seabird mitigation in the same way that skippers treat fishing gear – using quality materials and fine tuning to do the job really well” Janice says.

Part of the workshop involved discussing each skipper’s current mitigation and sharing any issues or ways of improving it.  The trawl fishermen reported their “bafflers" that ring fence the trawl cables are very effective at keeping seabirds out of harm’s way. The skipper of the bottom longline vessel San Kaipara has set up their bird scaring “tori line” with ropes and pulleys so that even in a side wind the tori line can be kept above the fishing gear to scare seabirds away from baited hooks.

“A tori line has to be used in combination with good line weighting to be any use” says San Kaipara skipper Ross Thorburn. He and his crew use at least 700gm weights every 12 - 15 hooks. The vessel can set two and even three tori lines if need be.

The Danish seiner fishermen reported that because the net hauling operation happens very slowly over a two hour period there is little to no risk to seabirds.

Seabird SMART Fishing workshops are open to any inshore commercial or recreational fisher in NZ.  We need a minimum of six participants to carry out a workshop.  The workshops are supported by commercial fishing interests, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Primary Industries. Contact to find out how to get a workshop in your port.