Yellow-eyed penguins / hoiho are very vulnerable to bycatch in set nets (gill nets), and have also been recorded as trawl bycatch, although to a lesser extent. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) estimate that 44 hoiho die each year around the mainland in fishing nets, the majority of these deaths are in set nets. Even a small increase in adult mortality can have serious effects on the long-term survival of hoiho.
Indirectly fisheries may impact hoiho by influencing the distribution and availability of fish on which the penguins feed, or damage the seabed and animals that live on or in it.
Starvation and nutritional stress are now becoming more common for hoiho. Variation in the quality and quantity of prey can result in reduced fledging weights, breeding success and growth rates, chick mortality, and an overall decline in local hoiho populations.
The Conservation Services Programme (CSP) is administered by DOC and Fisheries New Zealand (FNZ), funded by a levy on the fishing industry and has the following objectives:
- To understand the nature and extent of adverse effects from commercial fishing activities on protected species [e.g. hoiho] in NZ waters.
- To develop effective solutions to mitigate adverse effects of commercial fishing on protected species in NZ waters.
This forum has been used to lobby for increased observer coverage on fishing boats, especially those engaged in inshore set netting, to determine the true picture of penguin mortality. The Trust is engaging with MPI and the fishing industry to attempt to resolve this significant conservation threat.