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Orange Roughy Cut Welcomed



Forest and Bird today welcomed the Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson, decision to cut the catch limit for the East Coast North Island orange roughy population. But the increase to elephant fish quota endangers the threatened hector's dolphin.

Forest and Bird researcher, Barry Weeber, said that the cut to east coast orange roughy was long overdue as the population had been reduced to around 10 percent of its original size through over-fishing. The Minister cut the catch limit from 1500 tonnes to 800 tonnes from 1 October.

"The fishing industry should be supporting these cuts as it was in their long term interests."

"Deepwater fishing for orange roughy and other species is leaving a terrible legacy for the future. Fish nets are not only killing long-lived orange roughy but are devastating their marine habitat," sys Mr Weeber.

Mr Weeber said deep sea corals up to several metres high are being smashed by the trawl nets as they bulldoze the sea floor to catch orange roughy.

"While orange roughy have been aged at well over 100 years, these coral features destroyed by trawlers are even older. Gorgonian corals trawled up in fishing nets have been aged by NIWA at over 500 years and bamboo corals at over 300 years.

Mr Weeber said it will take centuries, if not millennia, for the marine environment to recover from the impacts of trawling for orange roughy and deepwater oreos."

Mr Weeber said that the increase in the catch limit for elephant fish on the East Coast of the South Island would further threaten Hector's dolphin as the fish was caught in part by set nets, which drown Hector's dolphin.

"Increasing the catch limit from 825 tonnes to 950 tonnes will further threaten the dolphin in areas north and south of Banks Peninsula."

Mr Weeber said earlier this year the Minister of Fisheries required the fishing industry to develop a plan to protect Hector's dolphin and consult with other groups by 1 October. "There has been no consultation and there is no observer programme to check on any captures."

Mr Weeber said the Minister needs to urgently implement further restrictions on set nets if we are to protect the dolphin from fishing in this area.


Contact: Barry Weeber [work 04 3857-374], cell phone [025 622 7369]

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