May 2015
Read about the identification of seabirds captured in NZ fisheries for the 2013/14 year (1 July 2013 - 30 June 2014).

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White-capped albatross caught on a surface longline hook. White-capped albatross caught on a surface longline hook

INT2013-02. Identification of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries: 1 July 2013 - 30 June 2014 (PDF, 390K)


New Zealand waters support a diverse range of seabird species, but much of the commercial fishing activity in the region overlaps with their ranges. The accurate identification of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries is vital for determining the potential impact of fisheries on these populations.

Between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014 a total of 354 seabirds comprising 20 taxa were incidentally killed as bycatch and returned for autopsy by onboard New Zealand Government observers. Birds were returned from longline (n = 63) and trawl (n = 291) vessels, and were dominated numerically by five species (white-chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis, sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus, New Zealand white-capped albatross Thalassarche steadi, Salvin’s albatross Thalassarche salvini and Buller’s albatross Thalassarche bulleri bulleri).

All birds returned from longline fisheries had injuries consistent with being hooked or entangled in the bill or throat. In contrast, most birds (79.7%) returned from trawl fisheries were killed through entanglement in the net or cod-end, with the remaining 20.3% likely to have been killed by warp interaction or entanglement. Nine birds were killed by striking the deck. Birds had a lower mean fat scores as in the previous fishing year, and discards, including offal, appear to continue to be an attractant for many seabirds.

Out of 342 records of seabird interactions on fishing vessels, photographs were taken of 66 seabirds consisting of 122 taxa. Of these, 66 images, only 50 had corresponding information recorded in the COD extract. Image quality varied widely, with poor images being particularly common for birds that were alive and seen onboard for short periods. Recommendations are made to improve photo-identifications in the future.

Publication information

Bell, E. A. 2015. Identification of seabirds captured in New Zealand fisheries: 1 July 2013 - 30 June 2014. Report prepared by Wildlife Management International for the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington. 43p. 


Conservation Services Programme
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143


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