Wildlife benefit from SH1 reopening

PRESS RELEASE: Forest & Bird

A group of international seabird scientists will be among the first using the reopened highway to Kaikoura today.

Scientists from Taiwan and Indonesia are in New Zealand learning about seabird bycatch management, and are traveling to Kaikoura on Friday with Forest & Bird and Department of Conservation seabird experts.

“We’re delighted SH1 North of Kaikoura is re-opening just in time for us to travel to one of New Zealand’s most significant wildlife hotspots. It’s important for scientists to see these amazing birds in real life, including a range of albatross species, and many others,” says Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Karen Baird.

“Many of our New Zealand seabirds, like albatross and petrel, spend most of their lives on the high seas of the Pacific and can be killed in international fisheries. Kaikoura is a perfect place to see these birds in nature.”

The team have been completing necropsy training in Blenheim, where birds killed on fishing boats are identified and examined.

The training will allow these fisheries scientists to improve their data collection and management systems, including training and resources for fisheries observers.

“Because many of our seabirds fly huge distances, international cooperation and information sharing is essential to keep them safe from deep sea fishing fleets.”

“Our ultimate goal is to reduce fishing bykill to zero, and give these majestic animals a chance to avoid dying in nets and on hooks. Without concerted international and national efforts, we risk losing many ocean species such as albatross, sea lions, and yellow eyed penguins, forever,” says Ms Baird.

The seabird identification course is organised by Ms Baird, with support from Forest & Bird, expertise from Wildlife Management International, Department of Conservation, and funding from BirdLife International.

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