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Programmes to mitigate future dolphin deaths

Seafood industry committed to pursuing programmes to mitigate future dolphin deaths
2nd May 2006

The seafood industry has put many measures in place to mitigate the capture of Hector’s dolphins, said Owen Symmans, Chief Executive of NZ Seafood Industry Council, today responding to news that 19 Hector’s dolphins died over summer. It is noted that only 11 of these deaths can be attributed to fishing, including both recreational and commercial.

“It is true that some of the deaths have been caused by commercial fishing activities. These deaths occurred despite a number of actions taken by the industry to avoid capture,” said Mr Symmans.

Since 2000, a voluntary Code of Practice has been in place for the commercial set net fleet. The Code requires good fishing practices and gear deployment that minimises the chances of dolphins and seabirds being entangled in nets. Fishermen are requested to report any accidental capture of dolphins.

In the East Coast off the South Island the industry has imposed a year round closure for trawling and setting which encompasses a one mile coastal area parallel to the beach. From the period beginning 1st October through until 28th February every year this closure is extended to include a set net ban encompassing a four mile zone running parallel to the beach.

“These closures are rigorously enforced by the industry in recognition of the importance of conservation for dolphins,” said Mr Symmans.

Many set net fishermen also use ‘pingers’ (acoustic deterrent devices) which when attached to nets emit high pitched pulse sounds to scare dolphins away.

“The deaths are regrettable and the industry will continue to pursue programmes to mitigate future deaths,” Mr Symmans said.

ENDS

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