Gill nets
The impact of fisheries bycatch on penguins in New Zealand is not well understood. Perhaps understandably, many fishermen who accidentally catch penguins are reluctant to report it.

The main area of concern is the use of gill nets. Nets set on the surface, as is common practice with recreational fishers in New Zealand, pose a risk to all marine birds, particularly if set near feeding or breeding areas.

Yellow-eyed penguins appear to be at most at risk from nets set by commercial fishermen for bottom dwelling species such as rig and dogfish. Where yellow-eyeds have been caught, the nets have been set in depths of 100 to 150m and up to 30km offshore, well within the feeding range of these penguins.

The Department of Conservation and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Consultative Group are currently working with the fishing industry and the NZ Ministry of Fisheries in an effort to get better information about the extent and circumstances of the accidental commercial bycatch of yellow-eyed penguins.

Fishing line
Monofilament nylon fishing line discarded by recreational fishers is also a threat to penguins, with the line becoming entangled around their feet or neck. Entanglement is usually fatal as the nylon tightens around the affected area and cuts off blood circulation.

The side-effects of fishing practices like the changes in makeup and sizes of fish stocks and the disturbance to the sea floor from trawling and dredging is unknown, but recent information suggests that yellow-eyed penguins are attracted to areas of sea floor disturbance. It is possible that these disturbed areas may be attractibve to the penguins prey species and thus the penguins. The long-term effects of this disturbance on predator or prey is unkown.

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