June 2017
Read about the identification of seabirds captured in NZ fisheries for the 2015/16 year (1 July 2015 - 30 June 2016).


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 2015 and 30 June 2016 a total of 328 seabirds comprising 25 taxa were incidentally killed as bycatch and returned for autopsy by observers. Birds were returned from longline (n = 157), trawl (n = 167) and set net (n = 4) vessels, and were dominated numerically by five species (white‐chinned petrel, Buller's albatross, NZ white‐capped albatross, sooty shearwater and Salvin's albatross).

All birds returned from longline fisheries had injuries consistent with being hooked or entangled in the bill or throat. In contrast, most birds (74.0%) returned from trawl fisheries were killed through entanglement in the net or cod‐end, with the remaining 18.7% likely to have been killed by warp interaction or entanglement. Seven birds were killed by striking the deck of the vessel.

Birds had a lower mean fat scores as in the previous three fishing years, and discards, including offal, appear to continue to be an attractant for many seabirds.

In addition to the seabirds that were returned for autopsy, examination of the Ministry for Primary Industries Central Observer Database and images provided by Government observers gave a total of a further 544 seabirds that were reported as interactions or photographed (as dead or alive captures) with 62 fishing vessels (and may include some noncapture interactions).

Over half (54.2%) of the seabirds reported in these interactions were released alive. Out of these 544 extra records of seabird interactions on fishing vessels, photographs were taken of 270 seabirds consisting of 21 taxa. Image quality varied widely, with poor images being particularly common for birds that were alive and seen on‐board for short periods. Images for dead birds have improved with a number of images taken for

Publication information

Bell, E.A.; Bell, M.D. 2017. INT2013‐02 Identification of seabirds caught in New Zealand fisheries: 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. Annual Technical Report to the Conservation Services Programme, Department of Conservation. Wellington, New Zealand. 26p.


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


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