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Greens appalled at filleted rare dolphin (Image)

Filleted Hector’s Dolphin Found On Beach

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said protection measures may be required to protect the endangered Hector's dolphin after a professionally filleted carcass was found on a Westport beach.

Ms Fitzsimons said a photograph of the mutilated dolphin had been anonymously forwarded to her by a concerned local and she had taken the issue up with the regional Conservator of the Department of Conservation.

"I am told the dolphin had marks from a gill net. These are set in the sea just off river mouths and we know that two such nets were operating in the area at the time.

"Hector's dolphins are a protected and endangered species and under the Marine Mammals Protection Act all deaths must be reported. Whoever found this one in their net did not report it, neither did the person who filleted it to use its meat. It was left to an anonymous member of the public."

Ms Fitzsimons said that the death of even one Hector's dolphin was very significant as the population was on a knife edge. A census ten years ago estimated a total population of 1320 individuals. However they breed so slowly that this population cannot sustain more than 2.6 deaths a year from unnatural causes.

Last year five deaths were reported to DOC, the year before it was nine. This year there have already been two in three months. The majority of them were killed in fishing nets.

"The Greens are extremely concerned that, despite the endangered status of this rare and beautiful animal there is someone out there who sees it as just a commodity.

"Currently there is a strategy being developed for the protection of the North Island Hector's dolphin. If more dolphins continue to be killed we must look at national restrictions on the use of coastal set net fishing if we are to save this species."

Ms Fitzsimons said there is a growing awareness of the precarious position of the Hector's dolphin among the West Coast community. "The Green Party negotiated funding in the last budget for conservation awareness campaigns one of which is designed to raise the profile of the Hector's dolphin on the West Coast.

"It is encouraging that a member of the public reported this death. But it is very disappointing that some have still to learn."


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