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Another Death On Eve Of Judicial Review

A dead North Island Hector’s dolphin has been found at the mouth of Manukau Harbour, just a week after boats were seen pair trawling in the area.

“Local trawlers have repeatedly denied that they pair trawl within the dolphin’s range, yet last week there was a deluge of sightings of boats pair trawling between Port Waikato and Manukau harbour”, says WWF Conservation Director Chris Howe.

“On Sunday the badly decomposed body of this critically endangered dolphin was found floating in Manukau Harbour. It had been dead for two to three days, which means it died at exactly the time the boats were seen”, says Chris Howe.

“When you add this death to the four last year, that represents five percent of the probable population killed in just over a year, and those are just the ones we know about.”

“It seems incredible that while local fishers are appealing a set netting ban to protect North Island Hector’s dolphins, highly dangerous fishing techniques are being used which were only left out of the ban because the fishers said they didn’t use them. In particular they are appealing the placement of observers on trawl boats, which would pick up any dolphin deaths as a result of trawling.”

“The fishers have seriously damaged their credibility in the lead-up to next week’s judicial review of the set netting ban”, says Chris Howe.

WWF urges the government to reassess management measures to protect the NI Hector’s dolphin, to include the banning of pair trawling within 4nm, in the same area as the proposed set net ban.

ENDS

NOTES

- The trawlers, including Sanfords and other small operators, were fishing within one kilometre of land; well within the dolphins’ range.

- Members of the public reported both the trawling and the dead dolphin to the WWF Sightings and Strandings Network, 0800 HECTORS, set up to encourage people to report sightings of the dolphins.

- Northern Inshore Fisheries’ appeal against the set netting ban and observer coverage on trawlers is due to be heard in the Wellington High Court on February 17-18.

- There are currently no plans to include trawlers in the ban.

- Fishers in the region have repeatedly said that they do not engage in pair trawling.

- North Island Hector’s dolphins are the world’s smallest, rarest marine dolphin. They are genetically distinct from the South Island populations and do not interbreed with them.


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