Fisheries New Zealand has reviewed the Fisheries (Seabird Mitigation Measures – Surface Longlines) Circular 2019. The circular states the mandatory seabird mitigation measures applicable to commercial fishers using the surface longlining method of fishing within New Zealand waters.
WWF-New Zealand is pleased that improvements to seabird bycatch mitigation measures are being proposed and that the best practice measures recommended by the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) are encompassed in some of the options outlined in the review.
Seabirds continue to be vulnerable to incidental bycatch in fisheries. Albatrosses are particularly vulnerable, as 13 of the 22 species of albatross worldwide breed in New Zealand. Improving bycatch mitigation measures is a critical intervention required to preserve these threatened taonga species and prevent more extreme conservation measures having to be taken in the future.
Moreover, so far as New Zealand is seeking for other countries to protect threatened seabird species through the uptake of mitigation measures, adopting ACAP best practice domestically is critical to enabling New Zealand to do this credibly.
WWF-New Zealand strongly supports Option 4 (mandating 3 out of 3 at all times) and Option 2 (additional mitigation measure). At the rate that seabirds are being caught, we consider that New Zealand cannot afford to settle for Options 1 (the status quo) and 3 (spatial/temporal mandating 3 out of 3). These options are not sufficient to prevent further decline of our many seabirds already threatened or at risk of extinction.
Read the full submission below.