• John Luxton
Fisheries and Aquaculture

Fisheries Minister, Hon John Luxton today rejected claims from the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. that he is refusing to take action to reduce the incidental by-catch of seabird on longline vessels.

"Nothing could be further from the truth" said Mr Luxton

"The Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation are working together on a "Plan of Action", in line with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) requirements. The plan will address seabird mortalities across all fisheries which interact with seabirds.

In addition, measures to reduce seabird deaths have already been regulated or are being implemented through arrangements with industry. The plan will include proposals for further management action.

"I fully support a strategy to reduce seabird deaths and that is why departments are working hard to finalise a plan which can realistically be implemented."

"It is preferable to enlist the cooperation of the fishing industry in developing means of reducing seabird incidental catch, rather than regulating controls that may have dramatic impacts on fishing operations and are difficult to enforce."

"The plan currently being developed will include realistic targets and objectives regarding seabird mortality over the next five years. Once completed a draft will be circulated to all stakeholders for consultation. At that point, we will be better placed to meet with sector groups to discuss a concrete proposal," Mr Luxton concluded.