Seabird awards recognise fishers for camera leadership

30 March 2022

Today’s winners of the biennial Seabird Smart Awards voluntarily installed cameras on their company’s snapper longline boats in 2016, and have been monitored for seabird captures ever since. Dave Moore and Darrin Fabricius are Directors of Wild Fish (NZ) Ltd and operate a snapper longline operation on the northeast coast of the North Island.

The Seabird Smart Awards, an initiative of the Southern Seabirds Trust, aim to recognise commercial and recreational fishers who have shown outstanding leadership and commitment to looking after New Zealand seabirds. Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, Hon David Parker and Minister of Conservation, Hon Kiritapu Allan presented the awards at an online ceremony this evening.

“We are aware of the public’s growing interest in transparency of fishing operations and we want to be at the forefront of this,” says Dave Moore. “Our longline vessels fish in the Hauraki Gulf, a sensitive area for threatened seabirds, particularly black petrels and flesh-footed shearwaters. We consider it a privilege to fish in the area.”

With over 2 million hooks set for the 2021 fishing season and full camera coverage, Dave reports there were no black petrel deaths on his vessels. Dave and Darrin pride themselves on this achievement, with black petrel survival a constant consideration. Now, most of their young skippers have never fished without cameras onboard.

Three other commercial fishers were recognised at the ceremony. Skipper Mike Te Pou has been awarded the Mitigation Champion award for switching to a new device that renders hooks harmless to seabirds – the Hookpod. This device covers each hook until it has sunk beyond the diving depth of seabirds. Mike reports he has achieved zero seabird bycatch on his vessel when using Hookpods.

Tony Walker was awarded the Advocacy Champion award. Tony, a kiwi currently fishing in northern Australia, lives by the belief that caring for seabirds while fishing is more than obeying the law, it is a duty of care. And he uses his large Facebook following to spread this message.

Jesse Crasborn and the crew of the Sealord vessel FV Rehua have received the Innovation Award for outstanding leadership in their commitment to trialling new techniques to limit seabirds from becoming caught in deepwater trawl nets. Jesse has engaged his crew in the trials and their commitment is a testament to Jesse’s leadership.

A special recognition award was given to Katrina Bowers from Tauranga, for educating recreational fishers on how to fish without harming seabirds. She has staffed stalls at boat shows and helped inform the public in many ways, all in her own time. 

“All of the award winners are environmental champions,” says Bill Mansfield, Chair of The Southern Seabirds Trust. “Each has contributed on and off the water to reinforce the importance of seabird-smart fishing practices. Their passion and actions have positively affected the attitudes and behaviour of others.  We want to recognise them and thank them for their vision and their work.”

“New Zealand is known as the seabird capital of the world. As the breeding grounds for a third of the world’s seabird species, we have an international responsibility to ensure their long-term survival,” said Mansfield.

The Seabird Smart Awards were established in 2005 and are held every second year. 

This year the awards were supported and sponsored by the Department of Conservation, Fisheries New Zealand, Seafood NZ, Te Ohu Kaimoana, WWF-NZ, Sealord, Deepwater Group, Sanford, Moana New Zealand, Talley’s, Fisheries Inshore NZ, Lee Fish Ltd, the Federation of Commercial Fishermen,  Wildlife Management International, Solander, Maruha, Dragonfly Science, and Hampidjan NZ Ltd.


The Southern Seabirds Trust is an alliance bringing together representatives from the seafood industry, New Zealand government, WWF-New Zealand and Te Ohu Kaimoana. Trust supporters include environmental groups, eco-tourism operators, recreational fishers, fishing gear retailers and seabird ecologists.

Key objectives of the Trust:

  • Build awareness and engagement among fishers so they understand and care about seabirds
  • Discover and share knowledge and resources that empower fishers to protect seabirds
  • Recognise and reward efforts made by fishers and the people around them
  • Cooperate with organisations outside New Zealand that can help to protect the seabirds that breed here but migrate to other parts of the globe

The Southern Seabirds Trust is governed by a Board that includes representatives of Fisheries New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade, Seafood New Zealand, WWF-New Zealand and Te Ohu Kaimoana.  His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales is the Patron of the Trust.

Media enquiries:  Janice Molloy, 021 386 311;