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Dolphin Deaths Alarming Action Needed On Set Nets

31 January 2002 - Wellington

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

dolphin deaths alarming - Action needed on Set nets

Forest and Bird is calling for urgent action to ban set nets in the Marlborough Sound after the deaths of six common dolphins were linked to set nets.

Forest and Bird Senior Researcher, Barry Weeber said the dolphin deaths highlight the impact set nets cause to dolphins and other vulnerable marine species.

Mr Weeber said fishers are legally required to report dolphin deaths under the Marine Mammals Protection Act but usually did not unless a fisheries observer was present.

"The Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation must take immediate action to restrict the use of set nets so that this carnage doesn't continue."

Mr Weeber said a range of threatened species were caught in set nets including Hector's dolphin, penguins and shags.

"Hector's dolphins are drowned by set nets in significant numbers around the South Island and are found in the outer Marlborough Sounds. "In 1998, for example, 19 dolphin carcasses were found on Canterbury beaches and 12 of those had net or knife marks and another two dolphins had to be released from a set net.

"This high level of human induced mortality cannot be sustained by a slow breeding species such as Hector's Dolphin.

"Unless set nets are outlawed throughout the dolphin's range, the recent increased protection of Hector's Dolphin under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 will not be enough to save the dolphins.".

For more information on the impact of set nets, please see www.forest-bird.org.nz/marine/fish_impacts

Barry Weeber Senior Researcher Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society PO Box 631 Wellington New Zealand Phone 64-4-385-7374 Fax 64-4-385-7373 www.forest-bird.org.nz


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