Fisheries Infosite

Environmental Issue

Deepwater trawl (vessels over 28 metres) - Seabird interactions 

Birds are attracted to larger offshore trawl vessels that fish for deepwater species. Some birds get hit by trawl warps or are caught in the net when it is near the surface.
Evidence of bird captures from overseas and in New Zealand's offshore trawl fleet suggests this may be a significant risk to seabird populations, some of which are considered threatened or endangered.
Extent of the issue
New Zealand has a significant deepwater trawl fleet. Much of this fleet has far higher observer coverage than the inshore fleet. So we have relatively good information on seabird deaths in most of these fisheries.
Management measures, including mandatory and non-regulatory seabird mitigation measures have lead to a decrease in the numbers of birds getting hit by trawl warps. During trawling for orange roughy and oreo, seabird captures are currently less than 0.01 per tow.
Current management
Mitigation measure are employed by deepwater vessels to reduce interactions with seabirds. Government regulations mean bird-scaring devices must be used by all vessels whenever trawling - to keep birds away from trawl warps. As well as this, industry works to ensure all vessels over 28 metres in length have and follow a voluntary Vessel Management Plan (VMP). VMPs specifiy measures that must be followed to reduce the risk to seabirds - things like storing offal while trawling, or not dumping offal overboard when the net is near the surface. 
Future management
Industry, government and environmental groups continue working together to reduce seabird deaths in these fisheries. 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. 
Documents / links
Documents around NPOA seabirds / seabird standard; Abraham & Thompson 2008