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Urgent Action Needed On Hector's Dolphin

March 6, 2002 - Wellington

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society called on the Minister of Fisheries to take urgent action to protect the critically endangered North Island Hector's dolphin.

Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager, Eric Pyle, said that the High Court decision picking up on a minor error by the Ministry of Fisheries, meant that the dolphins were once again at risk from trawling and set netting.

"Hector's dolphin are found on the West Coast of the North Island between Mokau River and the Hokianga and current measures only protect the dolphin in part of its range.

Hector's dolphins number around 100 and are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) threatened species experts.

Mr Pyle said the High Court decision in no way implies that the Minister made the wrong decision. The Judge agreed "that there was significant evidence of the vulnerability of Hector dolphins to extinction...the mere number (approximately 100) illustrates the point".

"Forest and Bird consider the Minister made the only possible reasonable decision to protect these animals. All the other options proposed included a considerable risk to the dolphin."

Mr Pyle called on the Minister of Fisheries and Conservation to undertake urgent consultation.

"The fishing industry needs to realise the seriousness of the situation we are faced with - the extinction of a species. They need to follow the direction of the Minister and not oppose it."

ENDS


Barry Weeber
Senior Researcher
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society
PO Box 631
Wellington
New Zealand
Phone 64-4-385-7374
Fax 64-4-385-7373
www.forest-bird.org.nz

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