30 Nov '17, 12am
Tangled and drowned: new study links penguin declines to fishing activity #ProtectAPenguin
The bycatch of Yellow-eyed Penguins is of greater concern. Populations of these stunning but endangered birds are small and fragile, and while official estimates of bycatch in gillnets are relatively low, at 35 birds per year, this is likely to be an underestimate, owing to limited observer coverage in key Yellow-eyed Penguin feeding areas. Regardless, even this low estimate has the potential to contribute to the species’ demise, given its precarious status and low global population estimate of just 3,400. The recent crash of the important population on predator-free Codfish Island brings the issue into quick relief – without substantially increased observation of the New Zealand set-net fleet and management action, there is a very real risk that bycatch will give Yellow-eyed penguins a helping hand towards extinction.