Description of New Zealand’s shallow-set longline fisheries
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is tasked with managing the largest industrial tuna fishery in the world. This includes a multi-nation fleet of 4-5,000 longline vessels fishing throughout (but not evenly distributed in) the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Interactions with sea turtles include incidental bycatch during longline operations, particularly when turtles actively take bait, or become entangled in the fishing gear. In the context of the concerns surrounding sea turtle conservation, and the extent of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s longline fleets, the Commission has recognised mitigation measures may reduce sea turtle captures. The Commission has attempted to reduce sea turtle capture in the fisheries under its jurisdiction, through resolution RES2005-04 and conservation and management measure CMM2008-04. Conservation and Management Measure CMM2008-04, agreed in December 2008, highlights longline vessels that fish for swordfish in a shallow-set manner as a particular potential risk to turtles. As part of the measure, Commission Members, Cooperating non-Members and participating Territories (CCMs) are required to establish their own operational definition of “longline vessels that fish for swordfish in a shallow-set manner”. This paper tables New Zealand’s definition for longline vessels that fish for swordfish in a shallow-set manner. The paper also provides information on New Zealand’s sea turtle interaction rates for these vessels.