New Zealand northern tuna fleet: report of advisory officer--seabird/fisheries interactions, 2001/02
The Department of Conservation (DOC) employed the author from July 2001 to July 2002, to work alongside skippers and crew in the northern domestic tuna fleet. The seabird/fisheries advisory officer position focused on ensuring skippers and crew were aware of the range of measures available to them to fish without incidentally catching seabirds. The position was funded from the Conservation Services Levy. During the year 113 skippers operating 108 vessels were visited. A further six skippers in the southern fleet were interviewed by Tuna New Zealand president, John Gallagher (114 boats in total). Tuna fishers experienced in seabird-friendly fishing practice were observed and the methods they used to mitigate the incidental capture of seabirds were noted. From these observations some best practices, including a best practice design for tori lines, and holding offal on board until the line hauling process is complete, were identified. Tori lines were built based on the design developed by Auckland fisherman, Laurie Hill, and distributed to each of the vessels visited. A folder of information on seabirds and practical advice on seabird-friendly fishing practices was updated and distributed. Many skippers included in the project are aware of issues around the incidental capture of seabirds and mitigation measures. Specific follow up is suggested for new skippers who may benefit from repeat visits to encourage and reinforce the adoption of good practices. Information about minimum mitigation requirements needs to be passed on to skippers working on behalf of permit holders. Further recommendations for skipper training and providing incentives for best practice are given.