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Govt Committed To Hector’s Dolphin Protection

The government remains determined to put in place effective measures to protect the North Island Hector’s Dolphin, says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.

Mr Hodgson said he would be reviewing the options available for protecting the dolphin, which is classified as a critically endangered species, following a High Court judgement setting aside his decision to ban commercial set netting in the dolphin’s habitat on the upper west coast of the North Island.

The Northern Inshore Fisheries Company sought judicial review of the Minister’s decision.

Mr Hodgson said he appreciated the company’s agreement to maintain a voluntary ban on set netting in part of the area he closed until he is able to revise his initial decision.

In August 2001 Mr Hodgson closed the coast from Maunganui Bluff (north of Dargaville) to Pariokariwa Point (near New Plymouth) to all commercial and amateur set netting within four nautical miles of the shore, not including harbours and river mouths.

During the period of the judicial review hearing the parties agreed to a smaller closed area, south from the Manukau Harbour to near Kawhia, again excluding the harbours. This is the closed area the Northern Inshore Fisheries Company has agreed to maintain.

“I will be getting updated and refined advice from officials on the options available to me and expect to be able to announce a new decision within two months,” Mr Hodgson said. “Further consultation with fishery stakeholders, required by the Court, will be carried out promptly and thoroughly in the next few weeks.”

“The Court has confirmed that ‘without question, there is significant information about the vulnerability of the Hector’s Dolphin to extinction’ and that ‘all parties agree the likelihood of by-catch deaths should be reduced to zero’. There have been seven known Hector’s Dolphin deaths in the last two years, including two in the last fortnight, from a population of around 100. I remain committed to putting in place the most effective possible measures to ensure the survival of the North Island Hector’s dolphin.”

Ends

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