To ensure that the risk of captures of marine protected species is minimised on an ongoing basis, fishers must maintain an up-to-date knowledge of bycatch avoidance and reduction measures. Further, these measures must be implemented routinely during fishing operations. To facilitate this, liaison officers were deployed in inshore fisheries around New Zealand from 2017 – 2019. In 2017/19, focal fisheries were surface longline, Fisheries Management Area 1 (FMA 1) bottom longline, and Otago coastal trawl. In 2018/19, work in these fisheries continued, and was augmented by broader coverage of coastal trawlers, preliminary work on set net vessels in the north of the North Island and southeast of the South Island, and opportunistic coverage of vessels using other methods (Danish Seine, jig, dredge/trawl). To reduce travel costs in 2018/19, Liaison officer work was structured into regions with all fishing methods included in the Programme covered by each regionally-focused liaison officer. The number of liaison officers increased from four in 2017/18 to five in 2018/19.
In 2017/18, PSRMPs were developed for 34 surface longline, 37 FMA 1 bottom longline, and 12 Otago coastal trawl vessels. In 2018/19, 54 plans were reviewed and updated from previous versions (21 surface longline, 24 bottom longline, and nine trawl RMPs), and new plans were developed for 72 vessels (five surface longline, four bottom longline, 58 trawl, two set net, one Danish seine, one dredge and one jig PSRMPs). Overall, plans had been developed for 155 vessels by the end of this project. Plans covered both regulatory measures and voluntary approaches to protected species bycatch reduction.
Observer audit information was received from 13 surface longline and 12 bottom longline trips in 2017/18. Most of the differences between practices documented in surface longline PSRMPs and practices reported from audits related to the management of fish waste discharge. The diversity and flexibility in practice that characterised bottom longline PSRMPs, and relating practices to the fields in the audit form, made collecting the information required for audits challenging at times. However, similar to the surface longline fishery, there were differences in the management of fish waste discharge between PSRMPs and audit reports in some cases. There were no observer audits conducted in other fisheries in 2017/18, therefore no information was available to compare onboard practice with PSRMP content. In 2018/19, seven observer audit forms were received by the liaison coordinator. These audits were completed during observer placements on surface longline vessels. In one case, the audit information showed conformance with the vessel’s PSRMP. In two cases, non-conformance was recorded but practice differed in a positive direction, to further reduce bycatch risk (e.g. heavier snood weights). Five vessels were reported not conforming with PSRMP fish waste discharge practices.
In 2017/18, 25 trigger events were reported from surface longline vessels and 11 from FMA 1 bottom longline fisheries. There were no triggers reported from Otago coastal trawl fisheries. In 2018/19, 16 trigger events were reported from surface longline, eight from bottom longline, and 2 from trawl vessels. Liaison officers responded to triggers by working with operators to identify and address bycatch risks to reduce the likelihood of future captures when possible.