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Hope For NI Hector’s Dolphins

The government’s management plan for North Island Hector’s dolphins, announced today, could hardly be better, says WWF.

“We’re so pleased that the Ministry of Fisheries has created a management plan which reflects the North Island Hector’s dolphin’s critically endangered status. The government has really listened to the concerns of environmentalists and taken positive, decisive action”, says WWF Chief Executive Jo Breese.

“It’s almost all good news - the size of the area banned to commercial and recreational set netting is substantial. Also the one hundred percent observer coverage on trawling and Danish seining fishing vessels in the area is vital to ensure that these operations are not impacting on the dolphin population.”

“We are concerned that the area inside harbour entrances won’t be covered by the ban, but we do agree there’s a lack of information on how the dolphins use those areas”, says Jo Breese.

“We hope that the public will continue to report sightings to WWF’s Sightings and Strandings Network - that way we can build up a better picture of the dolphins’ movements, and consequently determine whether inner harbours need to be protected or not.”

“WWF instigated a stakeholder workshop on the dolphins in Wellington in May last year. It resulted in the Northern Inshore Fisheries’ consultation process, which motivated the government to draw up the management plan we see today”, says Jo Breese. “This is a great example of the way that NGOs, industry and government can work together to achieve positive conservation outcomes.”

“North Island Hector’s dolphins aren’t out of trouble yet, but this is an excellent first step.”

ENDS

Sightings and Strandings Network: 0800-HECTORS (432-867) or www.hectorsdolphin.org.nz

Facts

- There could be just 100 North Island Hector’s dolphins left.

- Even one accidental death every five years could drive NI Hector’s dolphins to extinction.

- They live between New Plymouth and Dargaville on the West Coast of the North Island, mainly in shallow waters around river mouths.

- Their presence in shallow waters makes them exceptionally vulnerable to capture in set nets, both recreational and commercial.

- There is currently a ban on recreational set netting around Banks Peninsula to protect the Hector’s dolphins in that area.

- After a workshop instigated by WWF last year (supported by DOC and SEAFIC), the Ministry of Fisheries began a consultation process leading to this management plan to protect NI Hector’s dolphins.

Ends


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