Review of commercial fishing interactions with marine reptiles

Dunn MR, Finucci B, Sutton P, Pinkerton MH (2022) Review of commercial fishing interactions with marine reptiles. NIWA Client Report No: 2022147WN, Wellington, New Zealand

This project has updated and characterised protected marine reptile fishery captures in New Zealand waters to the 2021 fishing year. Five species of sea turtle (leatherback, green, hawksbill, loggerhead, and olive ridley) and four species of sea snake and kraits (yellow-lipped, Saint-Girons, blue-lipped, and yellow bellied) are known to occur in New Zealand waters and all are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 Between 2007–08 and 2020–21, there were a total of 273 reported captures of turtles, an average of 19.5 per year, and one capture of a sea snake. Of these, 49 were recorded by Ministry observers. In commercial fishing returns, five species of turtles were reported, with leatherback being the most frequently captured (n = 217; 79.5%), following by green turtles (n = 25; 9.2%). In the observed records, 37 (76%) were leatherback turtles. Most captures, across all species, were made in the surface longline fisheries targeting bigeye tuna or swordfish in FMA 1 (northeast North Island), where such fishing effort was also greatest, largely between January and April. The single sea snake, a banded sea krait, was caught during bottom longline fishing targeting tarakihi. The turtle captures varied between 2–34 per year until 2020–21, when they increased to 58...