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Industry committed to managing by catch risks

Seafood Industry committed to managing by catch risks

18 March 2008

The accidental capture of a number of common dolphins by trawl fishing in December last year is regrettable, says New Zealand Seafood Industry Council's chief executive, Owen Symmans.

"Nobody wants to catch dolphins, common or otherwise, and fishermen generally avoid this type of incident. Fishermen feel gutted about this sort of thing. It's the last thing that they want in their nets."

That's why the industry supports and endorses following the Marine Mammal Operating Procedure, which minimises accidental capture of dolphins during trawl fishing, he said.

"As soon as dolphins are seen by the fishermen, they move their vessel away from the area they are fishing. The industry is, and will remain, committed to employing mitigation techniques and measures to avoid this type of interaction."

The dolphin by catch numbers fluctuate widely annually, but average at around 20, he said.

Common dolphins may form enormous schools of several thousand individuals. This species is abundant but precise population estimates are largely unknown. They are classified as 'not threatened', the lowest level on the endangered classification ranking.

"There are large populations of common dolphins living in New Zealand waters and they are mostly targeting the same species humans are. I think it's positive that the average number captured each year is so low compared to the abundance of these dolphins."


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