Read the NZCA's advice to the Minister of Conservation on seabird by-catch

To:  Hon Eugenie Sag, Minister of Conservation
Date:  13 November 2018

At our August 2018 meeting, we heard from the Department’s Marine Species and Threats team about the significant ongoing problems around seabird bycatch, and discussed their important work and research.  Following this discussion, the Authority resolved to write to you strongly supporting the further reduction in commercial fisheries bycatch, and advocating for increased resourcing within the Department to undertake further work. 

Increased resourcing could take the form of an additional three staff members and/or a budget uplift of around $9 million across four years.  The extra resourcing would be spread across the following work streams:

  • Ecological, ensuring successful conservation of seabirds and other marine protected species by gaining a clearer understanding of their ecology and vulnerability;
  • Mitigation, developing and implementing robust threat mitigation strategies; and
  • Legislative, ensuring that New Zealand’s legislative tools are fit for purpose.

This would ensure that the Department is able to build upon existing work programmes, such as the Conservation Services Programme, but also initiate new priority work.  It would also ensure that the Department is well equipped to engage and support “improvement” work, be this legislative reform and/or engagement with Fisheries NZ as the agency reviews the fisheries management regime.

In light of the fact that there is evidence that bycatch of several NZ species (seabirds in particular) is an issue on the High Seas and foreign jurisdictions, the Department should continue to explore options to grow and resource further work on bycatch within the current international work programme.  This would take the form of increased emphasis on engaging multi-lateral forums, such as the regional fisheries management organisations. In addition, we support increased exploration and implementation of bi-lateral arrangements, for example co-operative agreements with countries with shared interests.

We again stress the importance of further research to facilitates effective action to address the concerning levels of commercial fisheries bycatch.

Yours sincerely

Kerry Prendergast
Chair, NZCA

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