October 2015
Read about the identification of seabirds captured in NZ fisheries for the 2014/15 year (1 July 2014 - 30 June 2015).

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White-capped albatross caught on a surface longline hook. White-capped albatross caught on a surface longline hook

INT 2013/02. Identification of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries: 1 July 2014 - 30 June 2015 (PDF, 579K)


New Zealand waters support a diverse range of seabird species, but much of the commercial fishing activity in the region overlaps with their ranges. The accurate identification of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries is vital for determining the potential impact of fisheries on these populations. Between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015 a total of 352 seabirds comprising 20 taxa were incidentally killed as bycatch and returned for autopsy by on-board New Zealand Government observers. Birds were returned from longline (n = 41) and trawl (n = 310) vessels and one from a set net vessel, and were dominated numerically by five species (white-chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis, sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus, New Zealand white-capped albatross Thalassarche steadi, Salvin’s albatross Thalassarche salvini and Buller’s albatross Thalassarche bulleri bulleri).

All birds returned from longline fisheries had injuries consistent with being hooked or entangled in the bill or throat. In contrast, most birds (88.3%) returned from trawl fisheries were killed through entanglement in the net or cod-end, with the remaining 11.7% likely to have been killed by warp interaction or entanglement. Three birds were killed by striking the deck of the vessel.

Birds had a higher mean fat scores than in the previous fishing year, and discards, including offal, appear to continue to be an attractant for many seabirds. In addition to the seabirds that were returned for autopsy, examination of the Ministry of Primary Industries Central Observer Database and images provided by Government observer gave a total of a further 433 seabirds that were reported captured (as dead or alive captures) or photographed as seabird interactions with 46 fishing vessels (and may include some non-capture interactions). Out of these 433 extra records of seabird interactions on fishing vessels, photographs were taken of 34 seabirds consisting of 14 taxa. Of these 34 seabirds, only 24 had corresponding information recorded in the COD extract. Image quality varied widely, with poor images being particularly common for birds that were alive and seen on-board for short periods. Recommendations are made to improve photo-identifications in the future. 

Publication information

Bell, E. A.; Mishcler, C. P. 2015. INT2013/02 Identification of seabirds caught in New Zealand fisheries: 1 July 2014 - 30 June 2015. Report prepared by Wildlife Management International Ltd for the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington. 22p. 


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


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