Mandatory form to make incidental catch reporting more realistic and uniform
14 August 2008
Commercial fishers will soon be reporting incidental catches of seabirds, marine mammals, marine reptiles, protected fish species and corals, sponges and bryozoans under a new mandatory system designed to collect more accurate information.
From 1 October 2008 fishers will complete a new reporting form — designed in collaboration by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council, the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) and the Department of Conservation (DoC).
Commercial fishers are required to report incidental catches of marine mammals and marine wildlife under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and the Wildlife Act 1953. However, until now there has been no mandatory, uniform mechanism for them to do so.
“This system will give the fishing sector and MFish more realistic information, including a clearer picture of the level of incidental catch against overall fishing activity,” said Senior Policy Analyst Bob Johnston.
“Under the existing system, the industry and MFish recognise that reporting has been, at best, very variable between fisheries and vessels. The existing voluntary form also fails to capture any information about some non-fish species such as corals, sponges and bryozoans.
“The fishing industry, MFish and DoC have developed the new system after trials by fishers and extensive consultation,” he said.
From October, all commercial fishers will be required to state on their catch effort returns whether they have caught any non-fish or protected fish species, and if so, to give details on the new Non-fish/Protected Species Catch Return (NFPSCR).
The non-fish and protected fish species catches they will be required to report include:
- seabirds such as albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, prions, gulls, terns, shags, gannets, boobies and penguins;
- marine mammals such as dolphins, toothed whales, baleen whales, seals and sea lions;
- marine reptiles such as turtles and sea snakes;
- corals, sponges and bryozoans (animals that form coral-like clumps on the sea floor);
- protected fish species — currently great white shark (or white pointer) and spotted black grouper.
Books of the NFPSCR form will be mailed to fishers with their new catch effort and landing returns several weeks before 1 October 2008.
The package will also include a full-colour flipchart guide produced by MFish to help fishers identify and code the species they must report. The guide also gives tips on handling live or injured animals.
Any fishers who have not received their package a week before the start of the new fishing year should contact FishSERVE as soon as possible on (04) 460-9555. They may use the old Non-fish Incidental Catch Reporting Form in the meantime.