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Seabird Smart Awards 2012

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

Zak Olsen (Sanford) and Adam Clow (OPC Fish & Lobster, Whitianga)

Award winners meet HRH Prince of Wales. Photo credit: Rebekah Clement

Zak Olsen has been fishing since he left school. Skippers and crew members who’ve seen him at work remark at the extreme lengths he goes to ensure seabird safety.

“What we do really works and we’ve had government cameras on board for 18 months to prove it,” says Mr Olsen, who adds the win is really for the whole San Kaipara crew.

“At the end of the day we do as much as we can to not catch seabirds and I think we do a pretty good job of it.”

A simple innovative solution is colouring bait blue with a non-toxic dye, a tip he picked up in a Trust Seabird SMART workshop which he says works brilliantly. Other practices routinely used include using a bird scaring line to keep seabirds away from sinking baits, extra weights to ensure the baited lines sink quickly, ensuring no offal goes over the side and that all old bait goes in a bin.

A contractor to OPC Fish & Lobster, part of Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd, Adam Clow says fishing is in his blood.

“I’ve been fishing with the old man since I could walk, I love it.” He says his vision for fishing is all about sustainability and doing everything he can to reduce the risk to seabirds. “We are nature lovers on our boat – we really care about what goes on.”

That includes almost always setting the lines at dark to avoid seabirds, constantly monitoring the situation and stopping fishing if the birds get too bad, landing fish whole so no offal goes over the side and using a tori line – a bird-scaring streamers to deter scavenging seabirds.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel – other long-line crews are doing what we’re doing. I believe younger fishermen mindsets have changed. They are there to do their job having as little impact on the environment as they can.”

The judges also praised the seabird smart efforts of Awards finalist Brian Kiddie. An owner/skipper who also works in the inshore snapper long-line fishery, Mr Kiddie fishes on his 10m boat Kotuku in the Bay of Plenty and sells his fish at the Auckland Fish Market.

An innovator, Mr Kiddie has the positive attitude and the skills to find seabird smart solutions that work. He says a background in engineering helps him develop practical devices to help reduce seabird captures. He is currently working on a new fishing technique that he hopes will prove effective and useful for inshore fishers.

Department of Conservation researchers who have worked with Mr Kiddie commended him for helping test a promising new underwater line setting device.


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