Saturday, July 13, 2024

Fisheries NZ seeks feedback on seabird protections

Fisheries New Zealand is seeking feedback on proposed measures to mitigate risks to seabirds from data transmission cables on fishing trawlers.

It says the feedback will play a significant part in the decision to allow the use of data transmission cables or not.

“Data transmission cables attached to trawl nets provide information to fishers in real-time about what’s happening under the water, so they can fish more efficiently and reduce their environmental footprint,” says Fisheries New Zealand director fisheries management, Emma Taylor.

The use of data transmission cables on trawl vessels was banned in 1992 due to risks posed to seabirds.

“Birds were often attracted to fish waste being continually discarded from vessels, and while attempting to feed, birds would collide with deployed cables from the stern of vessels,” said Ms Taylor.

“In the three decades since the ban on these cables we have developed a better understanding about how to manage the risks they pose to seabirds. This includes practices to manage fish waste which attracts seabirds, using devices like tori lines to scare birds away, or bird bafflers that put a barrier between foraging birds and the vessel.”

The proposals to strengthen seabird protection from data transmission cables include:

  • changes to improve fish waste management practices;
  • additional seabird scaring devices, such as bafflers or tori lines;
  • minimising the portion of cables above the waterline;
  • restrictions on the areas and times of year data transmission cables can be used.

The consultation also seeks feedback on amendments to reporting and monitoring requirements should the use of data transmission cables be allowed.

In 2022, Fisheries New Zealand consulted on lifting the ban on the use of data transmission cables.

Find out more about the 2022 proposals.

Feedback from this consultation included that mitigation measures to protect seabirds should be reviewed before a decision on allowing data transmission cables is made.

“If data cables can be introduced with appropriate protections against seabird bycatch in place, the data gathered has the potential to support innovation and new technology to make fishing more efficient and reduce bycatch and harm to protected species.”

“The consultation is open now, and we encourage everyone with an interest in the use of data transmission cables and seabird protection to have their say,” says Ms Taylor.

The consultation will run until 5pm on 9 August 2024.

More information, including how to make a submission.

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