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Action Needed On Hector’s Dolphin

A meeting of the NZ Marine Sciences Society heard from marine scientists today that North Island Hector’s dolphins will go extinct in the next few decades unless immediate steps are taken to reduce human impacts, particularly gill nets.

The meeting considered the outcomes of a workshop held in May, and asked what management action has been taken since then to remove gill nets from the areas where the coast clinging Hector’s live.

The meeting discussed measures needed to prevent the extinction of the North Island Hector’s dolphin.

The largest known threat is entanglement in gillnets. Dolphins with gillnet marks have been found dead on North Island beaches. An analysis of fisheries data shows that the bycatch rate up to now is unsustainable and will tip this endangered population to extinction if allowed to continue. The deaths in gillnets have been confirmed by interviews with fishers.

At the May meeting scientists also discussed the evidence from surveys, genetic research and interviews with fishers.

Marine researchers, Barry Weeber of Forest and Bird and Cath Wallace of ECO all joined with Davis Apiti, tangata whenua in a call for urgent action for protection of the population.

Davis Apiti, spokesman for tangata whenua at Aotea Harbour questioned the methods and process of the government agencies and deplored the lack of action since May.

He said, “We hold the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries accountable if this species become extinct. The danger that gillnets pose to North Island Hector’s has been known for decades. The time for talk has passed. We need urgent action. Dolphins are part of our ancestry. We will not tolerate their loss. We will not let bureaucratic inaction let these become extinct.”

Ends

For further information contact: Davis Apiti 07-871-0505 or Barry Weeber, 025- 622-7369 Dr Liz Slooten, 025- 474-418 Web site information: http://freespeech.org/aotea

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