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Decision won't save dolphins, but will ruin lives

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29 May 2008

Minister's decision will not save dolphins, but will ruin lives

The Fisheries Minister's decision regarding dolphins will put New Zealanders out of business, destroy their savings and - worst of all - will not save any additional dolphins, said New Zealand Seafood Council Chief Executive Owen Symmans.

In spite of Maui's dolphins being already effectively protected under the measures put in place in 2003 and no evidence to suggest otherwise, the Government has decided to extend restrictions which will be ruinous to many fishermen, he said. "The fishermen cannot catch fewer than none - we are appalled that the Minister can think it's alright to ruin even one person's business and livelihood with an absolutely pointless and unnecessary measure to protect a dolphin that is already fully protected."

There has never been a verified sighting of them outside the existing ban. There have never been any reported deaths of Maui's dolphins from commercial trawling and since the 2003 measures, no deaths attributed to commercial setnetting. We are already not catching Maui's dolphins - closing wider areas, where they do not range, is simply unjustifiable, he said.

Statutory and voluntary measures already in place have reduced the likelihood of interactions with Hector's dolphin to the point where commercial fishing should not endanger the population.

The Government is not prepared to compensate people for the huge personal losses caused by callous decisions. They are obviously happy to ruin people lives and move on.

The industry is - and always has been - willing to work with the Ministers of Conservation and Fisheries to put in place protection measures where there is a proven risk, Mr Symmans said. The problem with this decision is there is no proven risk.

"If Government can provide credible evidence that a risk actually exists then industry would prefer to work together to achieve meaningful mitigation.

"We accept the need for restrictions where the future of an endangered dolphin species is affected - but we cannot stomach unnecessary and pointless restrictions," he said.

ENDS

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