Black Petrels go for longline squid bait over fish

Megan Friesen (Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust, Leigh, New Zealand) and colleagues have produced a report for the Conservation Services Programme of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation that considers the foraging behaviour of the ACAP-listed and globally Vulnerable Black Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni and several shearwater species in relation to longline bait in experimental conditions.  The report considers that “Black petrels exhibit a marked preference for squid and it is possible that using other baits when black petrels are present will help avoid interactions.”

The report’s summary follows:

“Petrels and shearwaters are known to have an extra-ordinary ability to dive while seeking food - shearwaters for example are capable of diving to the astonishing depth of over 65 m. This project aims to document the diving and feeding behaviour of petrels and shearwaters in response to fishing baits to inform future development of methods of reducing seabird by-catch. As fishing baits are attractive, there is a significant risk of fatal interactions between seabirds and commercial and recreational fishing activities. Black petrel Procellaria parkinsoni and flesh-footed shearwater Ardenna carneipes have been identified as being at high risk from commercial fisheries in New Zealand waters, particularly longline fisheries that target snapper and bluenose, in addition to interactions with recreational fishers. This threat is most pronounced during their breeding season (i.e. September-April) as these species migrate out of New Zealand waters during winter. Other species have been observed during this study, notably Buller’s shearwater (A. bulleri) and fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia). We present distinctions in the bait preference and diving behaviour of black petrels and flesh-footed shearwaters towards baited experiments.”

Black Petrel, photograph by 'Biz' Bell 

With thanks to Barry Baker.

Reference:

Friesen, M.R., Ross, J.R., Robinson, R., Kozmian-Ledward, L. & Gaskin, C.P. [2017].  Diving & foraging behaviour of petrels & shearwaters.  Leigh: Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust.  26 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 April 2017