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Fishers Gutted By Dolphin Closures

The Northern Inshore Fisheries Company Ltd chairman Bruce Young said today he was saddened by the announcement of a set net ban between Maunganui Bluff and Pariokariwa Point. The Northern Inshore Fisheries Company Ltd represents the interests of fishermen and women around the northern half of the North Island.

This group has been working on the Hector*s dolphin issue for some time and had already come up with a plan that would allow the dolphins and fishermen there to co-exist.

*For eight months last year, we worked alongside the science community, Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Fisheries and environmental groups to produce a plan that allowed for survival of both the Hector*s dolphin and commercial fishing on New Zealand*s North West coast,* said MrYoung.

*This was based on the best information and environmental science available. And at the heart of the proposal was a regulated closure, which took an area where over 90% of Hector*s dolphin sightings have come from, and closed it to commercial set netting..

*The remaining area of known Hector*s Dolphin habitat was to be subjected to gear restrictions and the use of acoustic sonar devices which have been proven to alert dolphins to the existence of a net. This was modelled on the management initiatives which have been used in the South Island, and which to date have resulted in no observed Hector*s Dolphin captures.

*Part of our proposal also required fishers to complete a rigorous Logbook programme which was designed to provide a database for use in future scientific programmes providing much greater information on numbers and the location of Hector*s Dolphins. The cost of this program would have been borne by the commercial sector and as there will now be no fishing within the area this very great opportunity has been lost.*

Mr Young said he understood advice from the Minister*s own officials had been that there would be no measurable difference between the proposal developed by the Northern Inshore Fisheries Company and the Minister*s decision to implement the current total ban.

*The Minister*s decision rides roughshod over a proposal that was carefully developed and consulted upon by all parties * industry, recreational, scientific and Government. And this extensive consultation resulted in something that would have both achieved the Minister*s aims and preserved the incomes of people fishing and living in this area.

*It is a decision that has simply destroyed the livelihoods of 40-odd West Coast fishermen and women and devastated their families, taken income from small west coast fishing communities such as Kawhia and Raglan, and diminished the wealth New Zealand can gain from the utilisation of it*s fishing resources with no gain to the Hector*s dolphin.*

If ministers continue to make decisions based on some sort of preservation principal, ignoring sustainable utilisation of resources, the outlook for our nation is bleak, Mr Young said.

Contact Details : Bruce Young 025 434482, Brent Marshall 025 956881

ENDS

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