Protected white-fronted terns hang dead from fishing nets
strung up on a boat in Oamaru Harbour. Photo supplied.
Just metres away from the Oamaru Creek Penguin Reserve at
Holmes Wharf, members of another protected bird species have
been dying "horrible" deaths after being caught in fishing
Dead white-fronted terns hanging from unattended open-weave
nets draped over moored fishing boats are a daily sight at
Oamaru Harbour and one Oamaru couple, fed up with cutting
dead birds down, are calling for the nets to be banned.
Carl and Fleur Newton have been keeping a record of how many
birds have died, and have managed to rescue some of them, but
they said more needed to be done to save the birds from their
Mr Newton said that over the past six weeks he had seen as
many as 30 of the protected terns caught up in the nets, and
had notified the Department of Conservation (Doc) about the
Doc had been very supportive but fishing boat owners were
taking little notice, he said.
"They [Doc] sent a letter out, which went out over two weeks
ago and nothing has been done, no nets have come down.
"I think the trouble is, too, that people don't know about
"Once I noticed it and started to look around, you see what's
Mrs Newton said her husband, a keen rower, had managed to
rescue eight birds from the nets, but not all of those that
had been cut free had survived.
"Doc ended up with four and we released four back into the
"The four Doc ended up with had to be euthanised, because of
their injuries. It is a horrible way to die."
Doc Coastal Otago biodiversity assets programme manager David
Agnew said most sea birds, including terns and shags, were
"absolutely protected" and there were "thousands" of shags
alone in Oamaru Harbour.
"Under the Wildlife Act, protected species should not be
trapped or killed.
"We appreciate the boat owners' perspective, but we know
there are a lot of effective methods out there that they
Mr Agnew said the department acknowledged that there was no
intention from boat owners to trap the birds on purpose, and
Doc had made boat owners aware of the issue.
It was now up to them to find a "good solution", he said.