New Zealand is seabird central with more species of seabirds – notably albatross, petrel, penguin and shag species – that breed in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.
That is why the fishing industry must minimise its impact on these creatures we all value.
The Commercial Fishing Industry says that every vessel will now have a specific risk mitigation plan for seabirds and all protected species that will be rolled out across the inshore fleet of about 400 vessels over the next two years.
In a practical sense few vessels currently practised any form of mitigation measures while the office wallahs spread fantastic stories of how the industry is behaving themselves through their expensive PR campaigns.
Some vessels fishing deepwater species and those in the surface longline fishery have already had plans in place for years and the addition of the inshore finfish fleet just mean they are behind the eight ball and dragging the chain.
Ten golden rules for seabirds and marine mammals have been proposed;
They include holding all fish waste when towing, or discharging away from the path of warps (trawl wires); always employ bird scaring devices; shoot and haul gear as quickly as possible to minimise time on the surface; return live seabirds and mammals to the sea quickly and treat with care; record and report all capture events, dead and alive.
These proposed ‘best practices’ have been adopted for many years but basically the fishers themselves fail to adopt them.
They treat all foreign species caught in their nets as a damned hindrance and will cut them up so they sink when thrown back, and most are rarely recorded.
Do the boffins actually believe that the fishers will adopt this practice when they are pulling in a net in rough weather on the high seas? They have already have a most difficult task and the likelihood of them playing the ‘good guys’ to save some poxy seal which has been dragged through the water for two hours is ‘not going to happen’ says some commercial fishers.
It isn’t practical, it put our lives at risk and simply won’t work they say.
Its all very well for some boffin who wears a tie and has never got blood on his hands to make these policies, and they will work really well on a hot summer’s day when the sea is quiet with no wind.
The commercial fishers themselves state that the only way to stop killing seabirds and mammals is to stop fishing those areas.
“It doesn’t matter what brainless plan you adopt – we cannot avoid catching them as the seals and dolphins swoop on the nets when they are being towed to get an easy meal from the fish munched up in the nets. They basically catch themselves and there is little to nothing we can do about it, save fishing elsewhere.
If Nash the new minister actually knew what was going on he would invoke his emergency powers and close the inshore fishery.
Precautions to protect Maui and Hector’s dolphins are another joke they said.
While set netting has been banned from all known habitat of Maui dolphins and Hector’s dolphin habitat the ban has not been reflected by the trawlers.
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W: www.fishingoutdoors.org P.O. Box 10580, Te Rapa, Hamilton 3240 Facebook