Stepping into each other's worlds

Dave McFarlane of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust swallowed his sea-sickness pills and went to sea to learn about fishing with Ant Smith, a trawler fisherman from Dunedin.


It’s not uncommon to hear media stories where conservationists and resource users sit on ‘opposite sides of the fence’.  But fishermen and conservation interests are increasingly realising the benefits of getting to know each other and working together.

Back in January, Ant Smith, a local Dunedin trawlerman, and several other people involved in fishing worked alongside Dave McFarlane, from the Yellow eyed Penguin Trust, and local Department of Conservation staff to monitor yellow-eyed penguins in the Catlins.  So, it was only fitting that Dave get on a boat with Ant and see what fishing was all about.

While he didn’t see any penguins, Dave saw lots of Buller’s albatrosses following the vessel looking for offal and fish scraps. Ant runs a tight ship, and he and his crew work hard to make sure all offal is kept on board in bins until fishing gear is out of the risk zone for seabirds.  

During the trip Ant showed Dave an innovative ‘cone’ invented by Timaru fisherman Raymond Mitchell to keep seabirds safe around the trawl wires.

The trip was filmed for the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust new DVD about the benefits for fishermen and conservation organisations of working together.  The DVD is in the final stages of production and we aim to have it live on the Southern Seabird Solutions website in June.

The DVD is generously sponsored by:

Port Chalmers Fishermen's Cooperative

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust

Southern Inshore Fisheries Management Co. Ltd

Otago Community Trust

NZ Federation of Fishermen

Community Trust of Southland

Otago Peninsula Trust

Ngai Tahu Seafood

Harbour Fish

Elm Wildlife Tours