Improving Environmental Performance
While New Zealand already has a good reputation for the sustainable management of our natural resources, we must continue to improve our environmental performance to meet both domestic expectations and international market trends. Equally important is that we preserve and protect our native species to ensure they endure well into the future.
Protecting Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins
A package of measures to protect New Zealand’s endangered Hector’s and critically endangered Maui’s dolphins was announced this year by the Minister of Fisheries, and will come into force on 1 October 2008. The measures include a comprehensive mix of regional bans and other restrictions on set netting, trawling and drift netting in the coastal waters where the dolphins are most often found.
The new measures are based on the best available information – scientific data, information from commercial, recreational, environmental and iwi interests, and the analysis of economic and social effects.
Reducing sea lion and seabird bycatch
We continue to manage sea lion and seabird bycatch through a range of management measures. Ministry Observers monitor vessels’ fishing activity, report any accidental captures of sea lions and seabirds, check that vessels are complying with regulated bycatch mitigation measures, and gather scientific data.
The government and the fishing industry have made a concerted effort over several years to lower the sea lion by catch in the southern squid fishery. The performance of the SQU6T fishery this past year shows that the collaborative approach is working.
This year the squid fishery, which operates around the sub-Antarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands (SQU6T), closed in April without coming close to the allowable limit of sea lion deaths. At 46 assumed deaths in 2007/08, there were an estimated 10 fewer sea lion deaths compared with last year. Industry parties continue to improve the efficiency of their Sea Lion Exclusion Devices (SLEDs), through camera documentation and other monitoring methods, to further reduce this mortality rate.
To minimise the impact on seabirds, mandatory minimum steps have been introduced for relevant fishing vessels. All deepwater trawlers are required to use devices on their vessels to deter birds from going near the heavy trawl cables. All pelagic and demersal longliners are required to use streamer lines in conjunction with either line weighting regimes or night setting. Additional work is being done, including consultation with the fishing industry, to ensure that all trawlers, both inshore and offshore, manage offal and fish trimmings to reduce the attraction of birds to the vessels.