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New Zealand takes action on longlining

…three measures to be imposed to help reduce seabird bycatch…

Forest & Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) have applauded the New Zealand government’s decision to impose new restrictions on longline fishing in New Zealand waters.

We are pleased that as an initial measure all surface longlining within the New Zealand EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone] will now be confined to night setting and that all vessels must use approved bird scaring devices. commented Kirstie Knowles, Forest and Bird Conservation Advocate.

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton recently announced three measures to be imposed to help reduce seabird bycatch. As well as putting into force a daytime ban and use of bird-scaring devices (tori-lines), a notice period for longline fishing voyages is also to be implemented allowing the Fisheries Ministry to organise observer programmes where necessary.It’s a positive step forward, and a good example of what we’re working to promote with fisheries and governments. said Dr Ben Sullivan, BirdLife’s Global Seabird Coordinator. These measures are simple, easy to put into practice and above all they're effective. If they’re correctly implemented they will certainly have a positive impact on some of the threatened albatross species in New Zealand waters.

The decision is thought to have been prompted by Ministry observations of seabird bycatches in late 2006. Onboard a fishing vessel in the Kermedec Islands, 50 albatross were caught as bycatch along with seven petrels and two Leatherback Turtles.

Most of the albatrosses caught were Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis, endemic to New Zealand and listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife International. While these measures are a good first step to address the issue of seabird bycatch we hope that satisfactory longer term solutions will be found not just for seabirds, but also for sharks and turtles which are caught as significant bycatch by this method of fishing, Ms Knowles said.

BirdLife's ‘Save the Albatross’ Campaign is trying to stop the needless slaughter of these magnificent birds by ensuring that relevant international agreements are implemented that will benefit both the birds and the legal fishing industry.

To find out what you can do to help visit our ‘Save the Albatross’ website: http://www.savethealbatross.net

4th July 2014