Catching more than you bargained for
This is a continuation of the article in Wild Things issue 135 (winter 2017) by Emma Cronin, Forest & Bird Penguin Coordinator.
Why are there not more protective measures in place already?
Well, fishers need to fish. Restrictions mean they can no longer work and earn a living as they are used to. One idea to fix these problems is for the government to provide pay-outs (compensation) to help fishers to seek different ways of earning a living. We also need to remember that lots of people come to see these rare and beautiful penguins. Penguin tourism on the Otago Peninsula alone contributes more than $100 million per year. We have to consider lots of things in determining what is important to us as individuals, as communities, and as a nation.
Better management of bycatch is just one way we can improve the situation. Penguins have to deal with lots of other fishing related threats too, like being injured by boat propellers and finding enough food to live and breed. We can all help by being responsible fishers and boaters.
The Best Fish Guide (bestfishguide.org.nz) provides information on which fish are the best choices to eat, based on how much damage is done to the marine environment. It lists 85 commercial fish species and includes information on the type of fishing technique used, where they are caught and what impacts fishing has on the environment.