Press release – Zero bycatch by Hookpod

CELEBRATING ZERO SEABIRD BYCATCH!

Sir David Attenborough. Photo: NaturePL

This simple device has now saved the lives of countless numbers of the worlds most beautiful and noble seabirds.” Sir David Attenborough June 2020.

Over 300,000 seabirds, 100,000 of which are albatrosses are killed annually in the longline fisheries for tuna around the world. The Hookpod is a new invention which is starting to turn the tide on these numbers.

Since New Zealand changed its longline fishing regulations in January 2020, to allow the standalone use of the Hookpods to prevent seabird bycatch, there has been a gradual process of equipping the surface longline fleet out with the device.

A total of 15 vessels are now fishing commercially using Hookpods around the waters of New Zealand and we are delighted to report that there has been ZERO seabird bycatch when setting lines on these vessels!

New Zealand Skipper Mike Te Pou. Photo: Tamzin Henderson

It has been known, since scientific publication in 2017, from trials over 7 years, that the Hookpod is the most effective seabird bycatch mitigation measure available. However, to completely eliminate bycatch during setting in a commercial environment, is better than even we were expecting.

Sir David Attenborough, who was recently made aware of these developments, has written to the Hookpod team to congratulate us on this achievement. “This is truly thrilling news” he said. “Let us hope it is only a matter of time before Hookpods become universal”.

Igor Debski, of the New Zealand Department of Conservation, said “New Zealand is a global seabird hotspot, and this presents particular challenges to avoiding bycatch during fishing. Hookpods have provided a welcome alternative option to mitigate seabird bycatch during the setting of pelagic longlines, and they have been readily adopted by many fishers. Early results are promising and have shown improved effectiveness compared to existing measures, which is helping New Zealand work towards zero bycatch.

Hookpod CEO Becky Ingham is pleased with the results. “These results mark a real milestone in seabird conservation” she said. “Work to eliminate seabird bycatch has been undertaken for many years, but never with this level of success in commercial operations.”

This is undoubtedly good news for seabirds. However, Hookpod are now looking for options to replicate this around the world in other fisheries. Hookpod still requires support and promotion from the world’s conservation and seabird organisations to achieve the mutual goal of the elimination of seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries.

ENDS

Reference: Sullivan BJ, Kibel B, Kibel P, Yates O and others (2018). At-sea trialling of the Hookpod: a ‘one-stop’ mitigation solution for seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries. Animal Conservation 21:159−167

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3 Replies to “Press release – Zero bycatch by Hookpod”

  1. Really great news for our sea birds. Very many congratulations to all those involved in this work especially those that go out on the fishing boats to reduce and eliminate the by-catch and hence the killing of our sea birds..
    I think the question remains however as to whether international fishing outside territorial waters is properly regulated and controlled.
    I suspect it is not and that it is high time it should be. It is pretty likely that the level of fish take from our seas around the world is not monitored and is at a totally unsustainable level.

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    1. I agree that resolution of the sea-bird by-catch leaves the unsustainable exploitation of fish stocks unresolved but this is certainly good news of the sea-bird front. However, as I understand it this report only refers to New Zealand waters which leaves many areas of the high seas where the use of hookpods has yet to be widely adopted. There is an urgent need for long-line fisheries all round the world to adopt this technology in order to prevent continuing unsustainable losses of albatrosses and other sea-birds. Quite apart from the the conservation argument - which is surely overwhelming - it cannot be in the fishermen's interest to have to deal with by-catch as I assume they already have enough to do dealing with the target fish.

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  2. We need a logo to go on tins of tuna etc and a bit of pressure on supermarkets. It is in the interests of fisheries that support hookpod to get thier ambasadors to push for this as well. Whenever the Brt GOv raises its "high welfare"flag in discussions!

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