New Zealand reports on seabirds killed by its fisheries in 2006/07

The New Zealand Department of Conservation has recently published on its web site its latest autopsy report on seabirds killed in New Zealand fisheries.  The report was written by David Thompson of NIWA (the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research).


The abstract follows:


"Large numbers of seabirds frequent New Zealand commercial fishing waters.  The accurate determination of the taxa of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries is vital for examining the potential threat to population viability posed by incidental fisheries captures.  Further, the assessment of the age-class, sex and provenance of captured individuals requires autopsy in the majority of cases. Between 1 October 2006 and 30 September 2007 (the 2006/07 fishing year), a total of 324 seabirds comprising 22 taxa were incidentally killed as bycatch and returned for autopsy by on-board New Zealand government fisheries observers.


Birds were returned from longline, trawl and setnet vessels.  Seabirds returned during the 2006/07 fishing year were dominated numerically by two species (Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus and White-capped Albatross Thalassarche steadi).  Most birds (76%) returned from longline fisheries had injuries consistent with being hooked or entangled in the bill or throat, while most birds (70%) returned from trawl fisheries were killed through entanglement in the net.  Warp interaction was the likely cause of death in 29% of trawl specimens.  Mean fat scores were generally higher in birds from the 2006/07 fishing year than in most previous years, although mean fat scores were lower in 2006/07 than in 2005/06.  Seabirds returned from the 2006/07 fishing year, and from trawl fisheries in particular, showed clear size-related differences in the likely cause of death, and offal appears to continue to be an attractant for many taxa."


Click here to view the whole report.  A paper copy is available on request.


A search on "autopsy" on the DOC web site will lead to previous annual reports on seabirds reported killed in New Zealand fisheries going back to 1996.




Thompson, D.R. 2010.  Autopsy report for seabirds killed and returned from observed New Zealand fisheries: 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007.  DOC Marine Conservation Services Series No. 3.  37 pp.


John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 May 2010

The Agreement on the
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