Results from a Ministry of Fisheries programme counting by-catch on fishing boats shows set nets catch more protected species than previously thought, Forest and Bird says.

In two months the ministry's observer programme recorded the accidental death of 24 albatrosses, 32 shags and five endangered yellow-eyed penguins.

Nine common dolphins, three fur seals and one great white shark were also unintentionally killed.

Forest and Bird marine conservation advocate Kirstie Knowles said the results showed set nets caught more protected species than previously thought.

Forest and Bird was calling for a nationwide ban on set nets, she said.

"These new results show that set nets catch more than fish."

It highlighted the importance of having observers on fishing vessels and the need for ongoing work, Ms Knowles said.

Forest and Bird wanted the Ministry of Fisheries to put processes in place strengthening the management of by-catch, Ms Knowles said.

The ministry's national environment manager Steve Halley said programmes to manage by-catch were ongoing.

In particular, a national forum involving the likes of Forest and Bird, the Department of Conservation and the fishing industry was looking at the merits of various ideas to reduce unintended catch.

"We are always managing seabird by-catch as part of our general duties and we have existing programmes and processes under way to ensure that we mitigate seabird by-catch ... " Mr Halley said.

He said the merits of setting up a "take reduction team", as suggested by Forest and Bird, was being considered.

"We will discuss its merits and see whether it's something that we talk to government about later in the year."

- NZPA