Press Release – Southern Seabird Solutions
Three northern fishermen have won a national competition for ideas to keep seabirds away from recreational fishing boats and out of harm’s way. Aucklander Kevin Eddington won first prize of a charter trip with Geordie Murman on Ocean Ranger out of Leigh …Good ideas reeled in for seabird saving competition
14 December 2011
Three northern fishermen have won a national competition for ideas to keep seabirds away from recreational fishing boats and out of harm’s way.
Aucklander Kevin Eddington won first prize of a charter trip with Geordie Murman on Ocean Ranger out of Leigh for himself and three friends.
Runners Up Lew Hill and Sam Mossman each won $500 worth of Berkley Gulp® fishing products and petrol for their boats.
Southern Seabird Solutions ran the ‘Fishing for Ideas’ competition to encourage recreational fishers to come forward with ideas they have found effective.
“This competition was about tapping into some of the Kiwi ingenuity and knowledge that’s out there to keep birds away from baits and hooks, and we’re very interested in some of the ideas that have come forward. The ideas look promising and the next step is to test them to see how effectively they can mitigate seabird interactions.”
The ‘Fishing for Ideas’ judging panel was led by seabird bycatch mitigation expert Barry Baker, who also heads an international team of experts set up by Southern Seabird Solutions to assess and mentor promising ideas.
Winner Kevin Eddington came up with his Super Soaker idea after a Christmas day in a friend’s swimming pool.
“Everyone was squirting water at each other, and I could see that this might be useful out on the boat, so I bought a Super Soaker and tried it out. It works really well. You squirt water at seabirds when they get too close and they just move away. “
Runner up Lew Hill also discovered his technique, which he calls ‘Bucket Brigade’, by accident.
“We were out cleaning the boat one day and there were birds hanging around the back. I chucked a bucket of water over the side of the boat and it accidentally went over the birds. I noticed that they flew away, that they didn’t really like getting splashed.”
The second runner up is Sam Mossman, a keen fisherman in the Hauraki Gulf. His entry in the Fishing for Ideas competition identified no fewer than five ways to avoid or manage seabird interactions, based on the idea that a range of tools were needed in order to be effective.
His ideas include the use of soft-baits, water staining dyes, splashing water on the birds, using techniques to distract birds, and some rod handling techniques to help baits sink quickly.
Sam Mossman says seabirds are great fish-finders for fishermen.
“Birds tell us what fish are around, and where they are. Fishermen often find fish where the birds are feeding. You can learn from diving birds like gannets what depth the fish are at, because this is proportional to the height the birds are diving down from.
Janice Molloy says New Zealand has more types of seabirds than any other country, and many of the birds that fishermen see around their boats travel as far afield as South America, Southern Africa, Australia and the North Pacific.
“These birds are international travelers so what we do here in New Zealand to protect them will have an effect on birds in other parts of the world,” she says.
Fishing for Ideas is managed by Southern Seabird Solutions Trust with sponsorship from Lion Foundation and Te Ohu Kaimoana and prizes donated by Geordie Murman – Ocean Ranger – and Berkley®. Southern Seabird Solutions Trust is financially supported by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and the Department of Conservation.
New Zealand is a world hotspot for seabirds. More species breed on New Zealand’s coastline and islands than any other country. In fact, most of the world’s albatross, petrel, shag and penguin species are found in New Zealand.
Of the 85 seabird species that breed in New Zealand, 47 are considered threatened. A range of threats affect seabirds, but for albatrosses and petrels, the biggest threat is injury or death in fishing operations.
The Southern Seabird Solutions Trust was formed in 2002. The Trust is an alliance between the New Zealand seafood industry, the New Zealand government, WWF and Te Ohu Kaimoana. The Trust believes fishers are in the best position to prevent seabird deaths during fishing, and it actively fosters the use of fishing practices that avoid seabird deaths during fishing throughout the Southern hemisphere.
The activities of the Trust aim to educate fishers about seabirds, help them understand the impact fishing is having, and ensure they have the latest information on fishing practices and techniques to minimise the risk to seabirds. The Trust has undertaken projects such as skipper exchanges between southern hemisphere countries, development of audiovisual and written material, awards, competitions, workshop training, and real time technical advice.
To date the Trust has mainly worked with the commercial fishing industry. The “Fishing for Ideas” competition is the Trust’s first project with the recreational fishing sector.
Nationwide, the impact of recreational fishing on seabirds is not well understood although a study carried out during the summer of 2007-08 (Abraham et al 2010) estimated that recreational fishers may capture 11,500 seabirds per year in the North eastern region of New Zealand. The authors note that a large proportion of these were probably released alive. The fate of birds that have been hooked or tangled remains unclear. The Trust will continue to actively work with recreational fishers to assess levels of interaction with seabirds and to reduce potential adverse impacts.