By Alison Ballance
One of the unfortunate side-effects of fishing is the accidental by-catch and death of seabirds and marine mammals. A few weeks ago the Ministry for Primary Industries released a National Plan of Action for Seabirds 2013 which aims to ensure that ‘New Zealand seabirds thrive without pressure from fishing related mortalities, New Zealand fishers avoid or mitigate against seabird captures and New Zealand fisheries are globally recognised as seabird friendly.’
One of the jobs of fisheries observers working aboard fishing vessels is to record the number of accidental deaths. This information then ends up with Wellington data analysis company Dragonfly Science. Alison Ballance meets Edward Abraham and Finlay Macdonald to find out what’s involved in the data analysis, and how they extrapolate out from a small number of vessels with observers to draw meaningful conclusions about by-catch rates across an entire fishery. They discuss how a recent analysis has highlighted a significant problem with by-catch of Parkinson’s black petrels in the Hauraki Gulf snapper fishery, whereas recent mitigation measures seem to have decreased by-catch of white-capped albatrosses.
Southern Seabird Solutions is a group of fishers and other interested people working to minimise seabird deaths in fisheries.