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Too many dead dolphins

3 May 2006
Too many dead dolphins

News that at least 11 endangered Hector's dolphins were killed by fishing practices this summer is distressing, and highlights the need for urgent action, Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

The Department of Conservation yesterday released figures showing that fishers reported the deaths of 11 Hector's dolphins this summer. Most were caught and drowned in recreational and commercial set nets or trawl nets.

"The Hector's dolphin is the rarest marine dolphin in the world, and has an extremely low reproductive rate. For any endangered species, unnecessary deaths are disastrous, and the loss of 11 of the world's rarest marine dolphins is a tragedy. Of course, these are only the deaths that fishers were honest enough to report, so the real figure is probably much higher," Mrs Turei says.

"The Seafood Industry Council claims to have put many measures in place to mitigate the capture of Hector's dolphins, but their voluntary efforts are clearly not working.

"The Government needs to fast-track plans for a Threat Management Strategy for Hector's and Maui dolphins, as these figures clearly show one is urgently needed.

"Such a strategy should include strong measures to reduce the number of dolphins killed by fishers - new sanctuary areas, and extended set net bans, for example.

"The recent issue of sea-lion by-catch demonstrates that the fishing industry will get away with whatever it can when it comes to endangered species. It is not enough to rely on voluntary practices and reporting. The Government needs to take a strong stance on this issue immediately," Mrs Turei says.


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