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Public must not be gagged over dolphins' fate

14 November 2005

Public must not be gagged over dolphins' fate - Turei

The West Coast Regional Council must allow the public a voice when it tomorrow considers a mining company's plans that could pose a serious threat to the endangered Hector's Dolphin and other marine mammals, Green Party MP Metiria Turei says.

Council officers have recommended that the application, from Seafield Resources to look for gold in the seabed off the South Island, does not need to be publicly notified, however, the Council need not follow that advice, Ms Turei, the party's Conservation Spokesperson, says.

"There is too much at stake for this application to be allowed to proceed without all the issues being properly investigated.

"In its application to the council Seafield has acknowledged that the use of sonar technology has the "potential to cause discomfort or hearing injury" to sea mammals, but says it believes it is "unlikely" this would occur.

"That is no guarantee that it won't happen," Mrs Turei says.

"We should not be putting the commercial interests of an international mining company ahead of our rare and endangered Hector's Dolphins.

"The Council should take a precautionary approach and not allow the use of a technology that is believed to affect dolphins and other marine mammals - especially when we have already had four Hector's Dolphin deaths and three Southern Right Whale strandings this year.

"The Resource Management Act is supposed to be there to protect the public - not to allow big business to plunder our environment for financial gain," she says.

"It is also supposed to make decision making processes more transparent and accountable. The council must allow New Zealanders to have a say on Seafield's application," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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