Protected species that are incidentally captured in New Zealand fisheries include seabirds, marine mammals, some bony fish, sharks and rays, marine reptiles, and marine invertebrates. Recognition of the threats posed by fisheries for some protected species, in addition to potential impacts on biodiversity has led to specific bycatch reduction goals in New Zealand’s recently-updated biodiversity strategy, Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020. These goals include zero bycatch of non-target species by 2050.

Supporting this goal are ongoing efforts to mitigate bycatch of non-target (including protected) species in New Zealand waters. Existing mitigation approaches include area closures, and technical and operational changes to fishing operations and gear. Nevertheless, the diversity of bycaught species, and the range of New Zealand commercial fisheries make it difficult to develop effective mitigation measures, particularly as their success is often species- and fisheries-specific. The latter aspect was highlighted in comprehensive reviews and recent assessments in New Zealand and elsewhere that were focused on bycatch mitigation of different species groups and fisheries.

In view of existing studies, the current project was aimed at identifying gaps in current bycatch mitigation within the context of New Zealand’s commercial fisheries.
%It was based on a stakeholder workshop that sought to capture %By increasing the understanding of mitigation gaps, %the project was also focused on potential improvements and innovations for reducing protected species captures.
The initial goals of the project were an assessment of existing mitigation tools, the identification of significant gaps in mitigation techniques and practices, and an appraisal of potential new technologies that may be used to support reductions in protected species bycatch. Within these goals, the project was predominantly based on stakeholder engagement to capture knowledge and input through stakeholder participation in two workshops. The workshops had the overall aim to develop a a matrix of protected species and mitigation gaps across different commercial fisheries.

Guided by stakeholder input, however, the project’s direction changed to documenting the discussions, notes, and questions from the initial workshop. This documentation is provided here, with information pertaining to bycatch mitigation presented by protected group species and fishery.