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Dr Smith made the comments at the launch of Sharing Worlds - Seabirds and Fishing DVD by the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust at the Taiaroa Head albatross colony yesterday.
The DVD features Otago fishermen and members of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust working together.
Earlier this year, fishermen helped the trust tag penguins and
trust field manager Dave McFarlane went fishing with Port Chalmers Fishing co-operative chairman Ant Smith.
Dr Smith said the initiative set the bar high for other industries to collaborate.
To make progress, people had to leave behind historical, polarising stances and instead hold each other in mutual respect, he said.
''It is crucial partners work together with such enthusiasm. Being off in our own corners won't get us anywhere.''
Mr Smith said once both parties had ''forgotten their distrust'' of each other, they found they had much in common while doing the DVD.
''It was quite humbling to see the dedication and hard work of Doc [Department of Conservation] and the trust put into the birds.''
Mr McFarlane said it was a ''marvellous'' experience going fishing for the first time and had enabled the trust to build its contacts with the industry.
''This DVD ... will really help conservation in the South.''
The Southern Seabird Solutions Trust is a collaboration between Seafood New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation and Te Ohu Kaimoana.