Mitigation Standards to Reduce Light-induced Vessel Strikes of Seabirds with New Zealand Commercial Fishing Vessels
Artificial light can form a major threat to seabirds. At sea, disorientation and attraction due to artificial lights can result in seabirds landing on and colliding with the vessel and its superstructure. Birds can succumb due to the direct impact of the collision, due to injuries following the impact, or due to getting waterlogged. This phenomenon is known as vessel strikes.
To effectively reduce the risk of light-induced vessel strikes of seabirds, commercial fishing vessels need to use a combination of different light mitigation practices that best address the risks and needs of their individual operations. As the various fishing fleets are highly diverse with respect to vessel size, gear set-up, on board equipment, and most importantly, lighting requirements, the particulars of the mitigation practices employed may differ between vessels. To ensure light mitigation practices employed by fishing fleets follow internationally endorsed light management guidelines5, while accounting for heterogenous lighting requirements depending on vessel setup and operations , these Mitigation Standards document what is expected of effective mitigation practices. Mitigation Standards are grouped by what the mitigation practices aim to achieve(Desired Outcomes). These Standards for commercial fishing vessels6 align with advice being provided to other marine users, such as cruise ships, recognising that vessel strikes are important to manage across many sectors. This document also details how the Mitigation Standards will be implemented in commercial fisheries (i.e., through integration into existing Vessel Management Plans (VMPs) and Protected Species Risk Management Plans (PSRMPs)) and how adherence to the Mitigation Standards will be monitored and reported.