Fisheries Infosite

Environmental Issue

 Inshore set net - Seabird entanglements

Birds are attracted to the fish caught in a set net and sometimes get tangled in the net and drown.
Early indications from recently increased observer coverage indicate there may be a significant risk to some species. However, no formal risk assessment has yet been done on this issue.
Extent of the issue
There is a moderate amount of commercial and non-commercial set net fishing in nearshore areas around New Zealand. Our limited observer coverage (<1%) in these fisheries means we don't know much about the extent of this issue.
Current management
Recreational and commercial set net fisheries both have voluntary codes of practice around how long a net should remain in the water ('soak time'). These codes of practice may reduce the risk of seabirds discovering the fish caught in the net and attracting other birds to it. Likewise, set net restrictions to address the issue of Hector's and Maui dolphin deaths may also address the issue of seabird deaths in many places.
Future management
Fishing-related risks for all New Zealand seabird species will be assessed as part of New Zealand's National Plan of Action (NPoA) to reduce seabird capture in fisheries. Treatment plans will be developed where risks are considered above 'acceptable' levels. Observer coverage on commercial set net vessels has been increased in 2009 This information will give a better estimate of bird deaths and will be used when making further decisions around managing set net fishing. 
Documents / links
Documents around NPOA seabirds / seabird standard.