Sealord invests in protecting seabirds

Sealord's FV Ocean Dawn is to trial a new system to help reduce the risk of incidental seabird captures.


As part of current major upgrade work to the 64m factory trawler, adaptations will be made to enable the fitting of a new, comprehensive 'bird baffler' mitigation system to keep birds away from potential harm.


The system involves two super-sized booms fitted on the stern quarters, which, once at sea, will be lowered to operating level with rope and industrial hose droppers hanging down to create a curtained area within which seabirds should effectively be deterred.


The intended result is that birds are kept away from the warp wires which attach to the fishing nets, as these can create a potential hazard, especially for larger birds like albatross and mollymawks, that can collide with the cables and come to strife.


"Traditionally there are two types of seabird mitigation device already used and all Sealord vessels carry and use these," says John Cleal, who is managing the trial of the new baffler on behalf of Clement & Associates Ltd, which is undertaking the project by way of the Department of Conservation, Conservation Services Programme funding grant.


"This new bird baffler is a combination of learnings from the original 'Bradley'-type baffler and the Sandford 'burka' adoption. It goes one step further though to maintain coverage directly over the area where the warp meets the water surface and can remain deployed for the voyage."


Each boom reaches out 8.5m behind the vessel over the warp area - over twice as long as bafflers currently used - and protrudes at an angle to broaden the range of coverage over the warps. Dangling from each boom will be rope and hose droppers. In addition, across the stern, spanning between both booms, will be another 20m-long cable from which additional 'droppers' will also hang. Once lowered into place, its fixed position provides peace of mind in terms of the area covered. An additional benefit is that it can remain in place for the whole trip but can be retrieved for repairs if required.


"This type of system has been in use for many years on another vessel but on a much smaller scale," says John. "We're taking it to a whole new level though.


"Each boom is fixed to a tower so it can be winched up during port calls. To withstand the forces of the sea and the 500kgs the boom and tower weigh, as well as the strain from the booms being extended, adaptation is needed to the FV Ocean Dawn's aft/stern fantail deck. Sealord, which has helped before on multiple mitigation projects, are funding this part of the project."


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