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Shortsighted decision threatens rare dolphins

16 November 2005

Shortsighted decision threatens rare dolphins

The West Coast Regional Council's decision yesterday not to notify Seafield Resources' resource consent application for prospecting in the West Coast seabed is shortsighted and misguided, the Green Party says.

"This activity will have a huge impact on the habitat of the Hector's Dolphin, their feeding and breeding grounds. The seismic technology Seafied intends to use, could injure the dolphins and possibly contribute to strandings of whales in the area," Greens' Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"Part of the prospecting area includes nursery areas frequented by dolphin females and their young - because they are safe and sheltered. If these areas are damaged by prospecting in any way, the future for these beautiful, endangered creatures is very poor indeed.

"Surely the regional council, which is supposed to defend the environment, should have considered the impact of the prospecting on these fragile species and made sure that West Coast people had an opportunity to have a say," Mrs Turei says.

Marine scientists and recipients of the Charles Fleming Award for Environmental Achievement 2004, Dr's Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson, have contacted Mrs Turei and expressed their very serious concern for the potential of the proposed mining activity to disturb marine habitats.

They said: "Hector's dolphins are only found in New Zealand. They are endangered. The total population is only 7,400 individuals of which 75% live off the West Coast of the South Island. Any disturbance to this area could seriously damage their prospects. This would have to be the worst possible place for offshore mining.

"Considering the potential impact of this activity, this issue should clearly be open to public discussion and submissions."

Mrs Turei says "this is a death by a thousand cuts: another decision that values money over our threatened indigenous species. It can only end in the further extinction of precious and highly valued endangered species."

ENDS

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