This is the final report for MIT2020-03: Mitigation gaps analysis towards reducing protected species bycatch.

Protected species that are incidentally captured in New Zealand fisheries include seabirds, marine mammals, some bony fish, sharks and rays, marine reptiles, and marine invertebrates. Recognition of the threats posed by fisheries for some protected species, in addition to potential impacts on biodiversity has led to specific bycatch reduction goals in New Zealand’s recently-updated biodiversity strategy, Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020. These goals include zero bycatch of non-target species by 2050.

Supporting this goal are ongoing efforts to mitigate bycatch of non-target (including protected) species in New Zealand waters. Existing mitigation approaches include area closures, and technical and operational changes to fishing operations and gear. Nevertheless, the diversity of bycaught species, and the range of New Zealand commercial fisheries make it difficult to develop effective mitigation measures, particularly as their success is often species- and fisheries-specific. The latter aspect was highlighted in comprehensive reviews and recent assessments in New Zealand and elsewhere that were focused on bycatch mitigation of different species groups and fisheries.

In view of existing studies, the current project was aimed at identifying gaps in current bycatch mitigation within the context of New Zealand’s commercial fisheries. The initial goals of the project were an assessment of existing mitigation tools, the identification of significant gaps in mitigation techniques and practices, and an appraisal of potential new technologies that may be used to support reductions in protected species bycatch. Within these goals, the project was predominantly based on stakeholder engagement to capture knowledge and input through stakeholder participation in two workshops. The workshops had the overall aim to develop a matrix of protected species and mitigation gaps across different commercial fisheries.

Guided by stakeholder input, however, the project’s direction changed to documenting the discussions, notes, and questions from the initial workshop. This documentation is provided here, with information pertaining to bycatch mitigation presented by protected group species and fishery. DOC is running a process with FNZ to develop a pathway for mitigation projects to take to the RAG for prioritisation in the CSP Annual Plan 2022/23. Stakeholder input will be a component of this process. 

Publication information

Large, K., Berkenbusch, K., Neubauer, P., Tornquist, M. 2021. Mitigation of protected species bycatch in commercial fisheries- workshop summary report. Final report for MIT2020–03, prepared by Dragonfly Data Science for the Conservation Services Programme, Department of Conservation. 32 p. 


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


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