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New Zealand announces measures for albatross

Fishing techniques must change

BirdLife International has welcomed the measures announced by New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton to reduce the number of seabirds killed in New Zealand's fisheries. This follows an incident last year where a single longline vessel fishing in the Chatham Rise area of New Zealand was responsible for the deaths of 36 albatrosses including 12 Critically Endangered Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita.

"We are delighted that New Zealand is bringing its fishing practice into line with internationally recognised best practice. The New Zealand Minister of Fisheries should be congratulated on his decision", said John Croxall, Chairman of BirdLife’s Seabird Programme. The measures announced today strike at the heart of the problem, reducing the time that fishing hooks are accessible to birds by requiring them to be weighted and sink faster, or requiring them to be set at night when birds can't see them." The New Zealand Minister of Fisheries acknowledged that input from the public and sector groups, including Forest and Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) had been useful in helping him decide what the most effective measures to regulate would be.

BirdLife Seabird programme scientist Dr Susan Waugh, based at Forest & Bird, praised the efforts of the New Zealand government in introducing these measures.

She said, "It is encouraging to see that these measures are being taken up in New Zealand. Each year it is estimated that around 5,500 seabirds are caught in New Zealand fisheries, although the number of birds killed may be higher, as many fisheries are not covered by scientific observers”, Waugh added.

The Seabird Programme Coordinator Dr Ben Sullivan said the work of the programme and BirdLife Partners is achieving important conservation gains, with greater awareness of the need to fish with seabird conservation in mind.

"Experience shows that voluntary measures don't work at reducing seabird deaths, and we're enthusiastic about what New Zealand is putting in place to protect its vulnerable seabirds."

4th July 2014