Rubbing Shoulders with Black Petrels
- Fishers gain insight into the plight
of this threatened species
the end of April a party of Whitianga and Leigh longline fishermen Adam
Clow, Wayne Dreadon, Gavin Perry, Clayton White, Mark Dellow, along with
Leigh Fisheries employee Angela Cole and boat builder Mitch Pascoe,
joined Biz Bell, seabird researcher, on top of Mount Hobson. They were
there to help band black petrels before the newly fledged birds flew off
to their winter home in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
“Five minutes after meeting Biz I was up
to my armpit in a black petrel burrow, carefully pulling a bird out then
holding it while she banded it.” Gavin says.
“This experience hammered-in the
vulnerability of these birds and their importance as a species. It gave
me a totally new respect for them. It would be great if all fishermen
did this trip to the colony at least once,” Gavin says.
It was also an amazing day for Adam. “The
biggest thing for me was the realisation of how special and smart these
birds are and how rare they are. I learned that they have a low survival
rate and that fishermen here and South America play a part in their
Wayne Dreardon with petrel
Wayne, Adam and Gavin agree the danger
time is when they’re setting gear before dawn and birds want to dive on
the baited hooks. They use tori lines to keep the birds out
of the danger zone and weights to sink the baited hooks quickly so the
birds won’t dive on them. They make sure the deck lights point inwards
to minimise the visual presence of the boat at sea. And they hold scraps
onboard when there are hooks in the water – tipping a bucket of fish
scraps overboard is like a dinner gong for seabirds.
Gavin added: “Our fleet has been aware of
the risk to seabirds for many years and we will continue to do our bit
to protect them, and to help others.
Their visit was sponsored by Southern
Seabird Solutions Trust an alliance including representatives from the
seafood industry, New Zealand government, WWF and Te Ohu Kaimoana, that
takes a cooperative approach to seabird conservation.
A longline fisherman adding weights
to the set to sink the baits quickly. Photo: Southern Seabird