Fishing industry to stop seabird deaths

Every year there are thousands of seabirds being killed by commercial fishing vessels and now the fishing industry vows to stop the killing of these seabirds. According to WWF nearly 40,000 seabirds are killed around New Zealand every year after flying into ships harvesting seafood. Similarly to when seagulls are attracted to people eating fish and chips, they also swarm to fishing vessels, thinking there’s a meal to be had.

Janice Molloy from Southern Seabird Solutions, said that these seabirds are either getting caught on baited hooks behind long liners or the big cables that are attached to trawl nets. Sealord’s Paul Taylor said the ocean is the seabirds’ environment and the fishing industry needs to respect that. Devices called birds bafflers are being used, hung down from the sides of vessels to fend off birds. Operators also limit the amount of offal dumped overboard, as this attracts hungry birds.

According to Taylor there wasn’t much cooperation between the different groups that were interested in the issue, so government, fishing industry, NGOs, environment groups just weren’t really having constructive discussions on the issue. WWF said that although there is a new seabird mortality policy being drawn up but there is more still needs to be done to get the numbers down.