New Zealand recalls squid boats

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Sunday, May 8, 2005

Conservationists claim that 10,000 seabirds a year are caught in nets and drowned.
squid drying

In order to save the lives of seabirds, the government of New Zealand has ordered the recall from sub-Antarctic waters of the entire fleet of New Zealand's 35 squid fishing boats. Once at port, the boats are to take on independent observers to ensure that they follow codes of practice. Violators of the new rules face a fine of up to NZ$100,000.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope said that "blatant bad behaviour" on the part of the boats, flouting a voluntary code of practice set up a year ago, demanded immediate action.

An Air Force aeroplane was sent on a tour of inspection last month. Benson-Pope reported that observations from the inspection revealed that, contrary to the agreed code of practice:

  • 46% of the fishing fleet were not using equipment to scare sea birds away from vessels, with a further 8% only using it intermittently.
  • 30% of the fishing fleet were discharging offal (which attracts seabirds) while trawling or hauling nets, with a further 25% doing so intermittently.
  • Only 30% of the fishing fleet actually complied with both mitigation and offal management requirements.

Mr Benson-Pope referred to a voluntary code of practice adopted in the tuna fishing industry which he said had reduced death of seabirds by 95%.

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