Research by University of Washington aquatic and fishery science Professor, Ray Hilborn, found that fishing is the most environmentally friendly form of food production.
However, we know that some forms of harvesting have an impact, which is why we constantly monitor our activities and stay involved in developing world-leading technologies and procedures to minimise these environmental impacts.
As one of the founding members of the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, we've been at the forefront of issues concerning sustainability. Over the years, we've been involved in a number of trials, such as of different kinds of bird bafflers, configurations of tori lines, as well as participating in information-gathering initiatives.
Seabird Mitigation Measures are an important part of what we do. As well as mitigation equipment, each vessel has a Vessel Management Plant that manages discharges of offal into the sea to avoid attracting seabirds.
Most of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone or EEZ is deeper than 1,250 metres, there is very little bottom trawling below that depth. Scientists have calculated that more than 90% of our EEZ has never been bottom trawled (source www.fish.govt.nz).
Bottom trawling involves netting marine species that are close to or touching the bottom of the sea. It can be divided into two methods, benthic and demersal trawling. Benthic trawling is towing a net at the very bottom of the ocean in the benthic zone. Demersal trawling, which is what Sealord and many commercial fishers do, is towing a net above the benthic zone.
New Zealand has large Benthic Protection Zones, which are similar to National Parks on land that are closed to bottom trawling and the seabed within these areas are largely in an untouched state.
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New Zealand Sealions are unique to New Zealand and one of the rarest species of Sealions in the world. Their population of around 12,000 is now restricted to southern New Zealand and sub-Antarctic waters. Most breed on the Auckland islands but larger number breed on Campbell Island and they appear to be recolonising Stewart Island.
The Auckland Islands have a marine reserve extending 12 nautical miles to help protect these breeding colonies as well as other marine life here.
Disease is a major threat for both pups and adults. In 2014, 25% of the pups at Sandy Bay breeding ground were killed by disease.
Sealord proposed using Exclusion Devices to allow feeding Sealions to escape the nets, then worked with industry and scientists to develop devices that work specifically to help Sealions. The Sealion Exclusion Devices, which allow Sealions to escape fishing nets alive and unharmed are now used on every fishing vessel in the area.
All bycatch is monitored and recorded, we also utilise technology to minimize our bycatch.
We have developed innovations such as the line setting tunnel at the back of our longline vessel, which means the line is dropped directly into the water to ensure the baited hooks sink faster than seabirds can dive.
'Bafflers' are like metal scarecrows, which are used on the trawling vessels to discourage birds entering potentially dangerous area around the vessel.