New surface longline restrictions in place to prevent bird deaths
26 January 2007
Minister of Fisheries Jim Anderton announced today he is placing restrictions on the use of surface longlines in order to address threats to albatross and other seabirds.
"The measures are in response to an incident during a single trip in the Kermadec Fisheries Management Area (FMA), in November last year. A boat targeting tuna and swordfish caught 58 seabirds, including 7 petrels and 51 albatross There has since been a further incident of seabird bycatch and I am concerned that there will be further seabird deaths unless mitigation measures are imposed," Jim Anderton said.
Mr Anderton said the number of albatross taken was very concerning and that continued incidents may put pressure on the viability of the main species concerned – Antipodean wandering albatross.
“The unexpectedly large numbers of seabirds caught is considered the result of a particular type of surface longlining aimed at taking swordfish, but also other tuna species. These surface longlines are being set during the day and closer to the surface than usual fisheries practice, making seabird interaction more likely.
“The risk of further such incidents is unacceptable. After consultation with the fishing industry, I have decided to set three interim mitigation measures until a satisfactory long-term solution can be found.
"All surface longlines targeting tuna or swordfish will be required to be set at night.
"I have also clarified that bird scaring devices (tori lines) of approved specifications must be used when surface longlining regardless of whether tuna or swordfish is the prime target.
"Finally, I have decided that all fishers using surface longlines must provide notice of departure of a fishing trip to the Ministry of Fisheries observer programme at least five days prior to sailing.
"I am implementing these measures by notice in the Gazette. I realise that there will be an impact on tuna fishers as a result of these measures, and that the economics of swordfish fishing will be affected. However, they are intended as interim measures to stop further high levels of incidental seabird bycatch. More detailed mitigation and monitoring strategies will be developed that can more specifically target measures with fishery risks.
“I have directed the Ministry of Fisheries to work with industry and relevant technical experts on the development of more comprehensive measures so that a satisfactory longer term solution to the problem can be found," Jim Anderton said today.