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Greens’ dolphin plan does not make sense

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister of Conservation

30 July 2014 Media Statement

Greens’ dolphin plan does not make sense

The Green Party’s dolphin plan to prohibit any new oil and gas developments off the North Island’s West Coast and to ban fishing in areas where there is no record of the Maui’s dolphin does not make sense, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith said today.

“There has not been a single incident involving Maui’s dolphin and Taranaki’s $3 billion oil and gas industry in over 40 years. The prohibition on any new oil and gas exploration in this large area will come at a huge economic cost long-term not just to Taranaki but more widely to New Zealand. The Government introduced compulsory regulations for protecting marine mammals from exploration activities in 2010 that ensures no harm to Maui’s,” Dr Smith says.

“Set net fishing is the major risk for the Maui’s dolphin and has been responsible for every recorded human-caused death. The National Government doubled the set net ban area to 6200 square kilometres in 2012 to cover all areas where there had been confirmed sightings. There has not been a single incident or fatality since we introduced these new protections.

“We also required 100 per cent observer coverage on all fishing vessels beyond this area and in over 900 trips not one Maui’s dolphin has been sighted. The Government will review the set net ban area if any Maui’s dolphins are sighted outside the current protect area.

“The Green Party’s proposal to massively extend the set net ban area makes no sense when there is the protection of independent observers and there have been no sightings of the Maui’s.

“The Government understands the passion New Zealanders have for protecting our Maui’s dolphin but this is no reason to throw away common sense. This extreme Green policy will cost Taranaki thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in the long-term,” Dr Smith concluded.

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