19 Mar 2018

MPI under fire over seabirds killed by fishing

From Morning Report, 8:45 am on 19 March 2018

The Ministry for Primary Industries is under fire over a lack of progress on reducing seabird deaths.

The estimated number of captures of seabirds by fishing have fallen, but critics say it's only because there are fewer boats now, and little has changed overall in 14 years.

In its latest annual report it estimates 41,000 seabirds have been killed in the inshore trawl-line fishery since 2002. This is despite laws requiring fishers to take measures to reduce bird captures, Forest & Bird's Karen Baird says. 

"Best practices requires you to set your lines at night because albatrosses tend not to feed at night, and the other is to use bird-scaring lines and weighted lines is really important."

In 2017, MPI's bird protection model allowed for 121 endangered yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) to be caught before it was deemed fishing was having a negative impact. 

The estimated population of the yellow-eyed penguin is as low as 374 breeding pairs.