Government Addressing Squid Fishery Issues
Press Release by New Zealand Government at 3:51 PM, 04 Aug 2006
The government continues working with industry to address environmental issues in New Zealand's southern squid fishery, says Minister of Fisheries Jim Anderton.
"Our southern squid fishery is New Zealand's biggest seafood export earner," Jim Anderton says. "Last year it brought in nearly $170 million in valuable foreign exchange earnings.
"However, there are environmental issues in the fishery that need addressing, particularly the deaths of seabirds and New Zealand sea lions.
"New Zealand sea lions eat squid and are at risk of capture and drowning when they follow squid into trawl nets. Each year we set a limit on the number of sea lion deaths allowable before closing the area to squid fishing. This is always a difficult decision."
The limit is reviewed annually. It is set conservatively, and is based on the latest scientific information that we have on the New Zealand sea lion population.
The New Zealand sea lion, formerly known as the Hooker's sea lion, is classified as threatened under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, meaning it is not immediately threatened with extinction but is potentially vulnerable to population decline. Its threatened status is largely due to the fact that it primarily breeds in one place - the Auckland Islands.
"Seabirds are also an issue in the squid fishery," Jim Anderton says.
"When birds are diving around the stern of vessels, looking for fish scraps, they sometimes get struck and killed by the steel cables that tow the trawl net.
"To reduce this harm to seabirds, the government recently introduced mandatory back-of-boat mitigation measures for all trawlers over 28 metres fishing in New Zealand waters."
Three devices are currently sanctioned for use by such vessels - twin tori lines, bird bafflers, and warp deflectors. These keep birds away from the danger area where trawl warps enter the water.
"Fishers have noted that some of these devices work better on some vessels than on others," Jim Anderton says.
So a scientific trial to assess the effectiveness of the three devices was run in the squid fishery this last fishing season. The Ministry of Fisheries, in collaboration with the Department of Conservation, industry, and WWF, developed the trial.
"The results of the trial should be known in September, and will be used to refine how these devices should be deployed in the fishery this coming season," Jim Anderton says. "This should further reduce the deaths of seabirds in our squid and hoki trawl fishery.
"The government has already been hugely successful in its work with industry to address the problem of seabird deaths in the Ling auto line and joint-venture tuna fisheries. We have got seabird deaths in these fisheries down to a fraction of what they once were. I hope to soon see a similar drop in seabird deaths in our squid and hoki fisheries, as a result of this recent work."
As part of a wider initiative, the Ministry of Fisheries is currently working to develop acceptable limits for the impacts of fishing on seabirds across New Zealand fisheries - the southern squid fishery included."