December 2010
Published report on the identification and autopsy of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries in the 2008/09 fishing year.

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Autopsy report for seabirds killed and returned from New Zealand fisheries, 1 October 2008 to 30 September 2009 (PDF, 11,000K)

Note: This is an extremely large file that may take time to download. Please contact Marine Conservation Services if you would like to be sent a copy instead.


A large number and diverse range of seabird species frequent New Zealand commercial fishing waters. The accurate identification of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries is essential for examining the potential threat to population viability posed by incidental fisheries captures.

Autopsy is required in the majority of cases to determine age-class, sex and provenance of captured seabirds. Between 1 October 2008 and 30 September 2009 (the 2008/09 fishing year) a total of 384 seabirds comprising 27 taxa were incidentally killed as bycatch and returned for autopsy by on-board New Zealand Government fisheries observers.

Half (50%) of birds returned from longline fisheries had injuries consistent with being hooked or entangled in the bill or throat, while most birds (82%) returned from trawl fisheries were killed through entanglement in the net. Warp interaction was the likely cause of death in 18% of trawl specimens. Seabirds returned from the 2008/09 fishing year, from trawl fisheries in particular, showed clear size-related differences in the likely cause of death, and discarded material, including offal, appears to continue to be an attractant for many taxa.

Publication information

Thompson, D.R. 2010: Autopsy report for seabirds killed and returned from observed New Zealand fisheries: 1 October 2008 to 30 September 2009. DOC Marine Conservation Services Series 6. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 37 p.


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


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