Yellow-eyed penguin
Image: Shellie Evans | ©


Find out more about the Conservation Services Programme.

    The Conservation Services Programme (CSP) forms part of the work delivered by the Marine Species team, which is part of the Department of Conservation's Aquatic Unit.

    CSP focuses exclusively on elements of work defined as Conservation Services in the Fisheries Act. Read more in CSP background information.

    It relies, in part, on data collected by fisheries observers to ascertain the adverse effects of commercial fishing on protected species. Read more in CSP fisheries observers.

    It is a fundamental principle of CSP that once a bycatch problem is successfully addressed, levies will no longer be charged for that interaction. It is, therefore, in the best interests of fishers to collaborate with researchers, especially in the development of mitigation measures. Read more in CSP and the commercial fishing industry.

    CSP vision

    Commercial fishing is undertaken in a manner that does not compromise the protection and recovery of protected species in New Zealand fisheries waters.

    CSP objectives

    Objective A: Proven mitigation strategies are in place to avoid or minimise the adverse effects of commercial fishing on protected species across the range of fisheries with known interactions.

    Objective B: The nature of direct adverse effects of commercial fishing on protected species is described.

    Objective C: The extent of known direct adverse effects of commercial fishing on protected species is adequately understood.

    Objective D: The nature and extent of indirect adverse effects of commercial fishing are identified and described for protected species that are at particular risk to such effects.

    Objective E: Adequate information on population level and susceptibility to fisheries effects exists for protected species populations identified as at medium or higher risk from fisheries.

    Further details can be found in the CSP Strategic Statement.

    CSP research projects

    Projects fall into four areas:

    Interaction projects

    Examine the interactions between protected species and commercial fisheries. The largest current project is the Fisheries Observer Programme. Other projects include the retrieval, necropsy and identification of bycaught protected species.

    Population studies

    Examine the population dynamics of protected species where there is concern due to their propensity for bycatch. Current projects are examining the New Zealand sea lion, white-capped albatross and black petrel.

    Bycatch mitigation

    Projects apply science or other information to develop or implement measures to reduce the adverse impact of commercial fishing on protected species. Recent projects have included the development of sea lion and seal exclusion devices and measures to manage fish waste in trawl fisheries.

    Population management plans

    Develop population management plans.

    CSP achievements

    The Conservation Services Programme provides a rare example in the global fishing industry of a transparent and accountable process where industry is legally required to contribute to the costs of research relating to its environmental impacts.

    Conservation Services levies have funded:

    • the development of a number of promising mitigation devices
    • provision of advisory officers
    • the development of management measures that aim to contribute to reducing the current rates of bycatch of protected species.

    In the longline and trawl fisheries, fishing companies have been involved with DOC in exploring several research avenues and some companies have trialled devices in their fishing operations at considerable expense to themselves.

    Some fishing companies have also developed and trialled their own ideas for mitigation measures. The most successful of these have involved modifications to fishing practice e.g. hauling methods and offal discharge.

    Similar co-operative and innovative approaches have been seen in some fisheries where marine mammals have been caught in significant numbers, for example the use of sea lion exclusion devices (SLEDs) in the Subantarctic squid fishery.

    The introduction of levy-funded projects and the independent action of fishing companies has resolved many interactions between commercial fisheries and protected species of marine wildlife. Also, there is no doubt that the New Zealand Government is far better informed of these problems as a result of increased observer coverage funded through the Conservation Services Levies.

    Finally, all fishers who currently pay these levies have a strong financial incentive to reduce their interactions with protected species, and thus negate the need for levies to be paid.


    Conservation Services Programme
    Department of Conservation
    PO Box 10-420
    Wellington 6143


    Email for more information, or to join our stakeholder mailing list click here

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