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Good News For Hectors Dolphins

MEDIA RELEASE FOR
IMMEDIATE USE 19 JULY 1999

Fisheries Minister John Luxton, today announced a voluntary agreement by South East Inshore Finfish Management Ltd that will significantly reduce the number of Hectors dolphins that are caught in commercial fishing gear.

All set net fishers harvesting from Kaikoura to Oamaru have agreed to attach pingers to their fishing nets voluntarily. A pinger is an acoustic device that warns dolphins away from the fishing nets, thereby preventing them from being ensnared.

"By-catch of marine mammals is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. I am thrilled that industry have taken the initiative to address the problem through the use of pingers."

"Dolphins are a unique and important part of our biodiversity. If devices such as pingers can significantly reduce dolphin deaths then I applaud their use."

Overseas studies have shown that by-catch of marine mammals can be reduced by over 75% where pingers are used.

An observer programme will also be conducted on the vessels using pingers to verify their effectiveness in avoiding incidental captures of dolphins. The results will be analysed by a US scientist. A total of $85,000 is being spent.

South East Inshore is also working with the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries to develop effective codes of practice to reduce marine bycatch.

"The commercial fishing industry are often criticised by environmentalists. This move shows that industry are aware of their conservation responsibilities and take them seriously. I look forward to the success of this initiative," Mr Luxton concluded.

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