Protected species include almost all New Zealand seabirds, all marine mammals, some marine reptiles, black and some red corals, black-spotted groper, and white pointer sharks.
Fishing has the potential to affect all of these groups through incidental capture or damage, habitat modification, competition effects, or other indirect effects.
The Ministry of Fisheries has the responsibility under the Fisheries Act 1996 (sections 8, 9, and 15) to avoid, remedy and mitigate any adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment, including protected species. In addition, provisions of the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and the Wildlife Act 1953 require those who accidentally or incidentally kill or injure marine mammals or protected wildlife to report to a conservation or fishery officer. This includes both commercial and non-commercial fishing activities.
The International Union for Conservation of nature and Natural Resources
(IUCN) Red list is widely recognised as the most objective and authoritative listing of species that are globally at risk of extinction (Butchart et al. 2004). Species are assigned to Red List categories through detailed assessment of information against a set of objective, standard, quantitative criteria (IUCN 2001). The principal categories on the IUCN Red List are (IUCN 2001):
- Extinct in the Wild
- Critically Endangered
- Near Threatened
- Least Concern
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) has also developed a process of classifying the threats to species; this process has been applied to all New Zealand’s species groups, including marine species (Hitchmough 2002). Annex 1 and 2 contain lists of New Zealand’s seabirds and marine mammals and their IUCN and DOC threat classifications.