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Bans on West Coast netting a gross over-reaction

Bans on West Coast netting a gross over-reaction – Maori Party

Hon Tariana Turia, Fisheries spokesperson and MP for Te Tai Hauauru     29 May 2008

A complete ban on set netting and strict regulation of commercial trawling in a vast area of the West Coast of the North Island seems an complete over-reaction to the threats to Maui’s Dolphins, says Maori Party fisheries spokesperson and Te Tai Hauauru MP Tariana Turia.

“At the very least, it’s grand hypocrisy, when the government has issued exploration licences for seabed mining and oil drilling over the same area,” said Mrs Turia.

“I absolutely support strong protections for Maui’s Dolphins, but a panic reaction to one threat, while nothing is done about other serious threats, is just not sensible.

“Since the current netting restrictions were implemented five years ago, there have been no reported deaths of Maui’s Dolphins in nets. It seems hard to justify tighter restrictions on fishing over a much wider area, when the full cost falls on relatively few people.

“The government says these measures will cost fishers around $80 million in lost quota value and income in five to ten years, plus three hundred jobs down the drain. That’s just commercial fishers.

“The Kaipara, Manukau, Whaingaroa and Aotea harbours are customary fishing grounds for many iwi and hapü. Some staple species, like mullet, can only be caught in nets. This will have a huge impact on marae economies and local communities’ ability to sustain themselves.

“If the government thinks the dolphins demand that kind of sacrifice, perhaps the $80 million could be spent on research to learn more about the dolphins and the various threats to their environment, including seabed mining.

“Maui’s dolphins are revered as a taonga by Maori" said Mrs Turia.  "Tangata whenua know these precious creatures by many different names, (tutumairekurai, aihe, papakanua, tupoupou, hopuhopu, tukuperu and upokohue).

"However, while we are extremely concerned that the status of our taonga is 'critically endangered' we do not think that its survival rests in this one strategy alone"

“Very little is known about the impacts of seabed mining on marine ecosystems and food chains, which will affect Maui’s Dolphins, and perhaps the orcas and sharks which may in turn feed on them.

“Without this depth of knowledge, fishers and their families might end up making a huge sacrifice, and all in vain,” sad Mrs Turia.


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