This is the final annual report for MIT2020-02: Protected species liaison project 2020/21.
In order to effectively reduce the risk of interactions with protected species, it is important for vessels to be using best practice mitigation and to follow steps laid out by both regulatory and non-regulatory measures. With the support of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand (FINZ), the Conservation Services Programme (CSP) Protected Species Liaison Project aims to increase uptake of best practice mitigation for inshore and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) fishing vessels. This is achieved by building one-on-one relationships, providing advice, and educating fishers on protected species information.
The Liaison Programme began in 2014-15 (MIT2014-03) with a focus on surface and bottom longliners. Over the years the programme has expanded to include inshore trawl, and set net fleets, with opportunistic engagement in dredging, jig and Danish seine. There are currently five regionally-focused liaison officers.
In the 2020-21 fishing year (01 October 2020 - 30 September 2021) the Liaison Programme reviewed 157 PSRMPs and developed a total of 34 new PSRMPs for inshore and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) vessels. A total of 100 PSRMP audits were completed by Observer Services and forwarded on to the Liaison Programme. These comprised of 14 surface longline audits, 19 bottom longline audits, 46 trawl audits and 21 set net audits. Of the vessels observed, there was 29% adherence in the SLL fleet, 53% adherence in the BLL fleet, 63% adherence in the trawl fleet and 57% adherence in the set net fleet.
Inappropriate offal management and inadequate bycatch mitigation devices seemed to be the most common reasons for non-adherence across the longline and trawl fishing methods, especially within surface longline. Issues of non-adherence in the set net fleet were varied, ranging from lack of bycatch mitigation documents (i.e. PSRMPs, Operational Procedures and 10 Golden Rules) onboard and fully understood by crew, lack of avoiding known areas of high protected species activity, and some problems with appropriately reporting all protected species to FNZ and DOC Liaison Officers.
We received 135 triggers from 47 different vessels. Of the 135 trigger events, 103 were for seabirds. These were largely comprised of black petrels and flesh-footed shearwaters caught in the SLL and BLL fleets. Unsurprisingly, most captures seemed to be influenced by high-risk periods; either setting in the daytime, at full moon, or during high bird activity.
Within the coming years the capacity of the programme is expected to grow to provide full outreach to all relevant inshore and HMS fisheries. By the end of the 2020-21 fishing year there were 222 active vessels included in the Liaison Programme, and five Liaison Officers spread throughout the regions. With upwards of 400 vessels active in our prioritised inshore and HMS fleets, additional LOs will be needed to provide sufficient coverage. Despite COVID-19 delays, there has been work to include both harbour set net and purse seine in the 2021-22 fishing year.
Plencner, T. 2022. CSP Liaison Programme Annual Report 2020-21. Final Report for MIT2020-02, Department of Conservation. 43 p.