Keep seabirds off the hook when you're out fishing

We are a country that loves to fish. Every year, over 700,000 New Zealanders go salt water fishing, logging 4.8 million hours in the Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty regions alone.

Seabirds will often swarm around fishing vessels diving for baits, or grabbing fish from nets.

Seabirds will often swarm around fishing vessels diving for baits, or grabbing fish from nets.

But recreational fishing is a major threat to our seabirds. They can get caught on hooks, nets and other fishing gear.

While most birds are released unharmed, certain species are already so threatened that even the death of a single bird really does matter, especially if it's an adult that can't return to land and feed its chick.

The growing popularity and sheer number of recreational fishers may be putting more pressure on seabirds but there are things you can do to help protect them when you're out on the water.

Be seabird smart

All seabirds are protected and many are threatened. You can help protect them by doing all you can to deter birds from associating your boat with a potential feed.

Fish Tidy

Keeping any bait on board in closed containers and maintaining a clean deck, free of any fish wastes.

Fish Fast

When you do bait up, sink both your bait and burley fast and deep, preferably beyond the diving depth of birds (6 metres).

Distract or Deter Birds

If birds do get attracted to your boat, try to create a safe, bird free zone around the boat – some boaties use the deck hose to spray towards birds, some use a semi empty milk bottle bobbing just above the water’s surface to act like a scarecrow and scare off birds.

Reduce Your Plastic Use

Other impacts on our seabirds include entanglement or ingestion of rubbish, particularly plastics, so please ensure all waste goes back home with you to be disposed of safely.


Watch this video by the presenters of fishing programme Big Angry Fish to find out how you can avoid catching seabirds. They've got some good tips and some great laughs!

Kit out your boat with our handy guide

Download a copy of our handy guide and keep it on your boat or in your fishing bag. It will show you how to avoid catching seabirds and what to do if you do. It even includes a guide to the Seabirds of the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty. 

Kids are the next generation of fishers

Forest & Bird and Southern Seabird Solutions asked the "Hiwi the Kiwi Goes Fishing" show which travels around New Zealand primary schools to write a song about our seabird taonga as part of the Off the Hook campaign, to teach kids about keeping seabirds safe when they're out fishing. This Singing for Seabirds blog tells you a bit more about it and includes a video of the "catchy" song.