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Fish Leave Sour Taste

Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ Inc P O Box 11-057, Wellington, 04-385-7545 eco@reddfish.co.nz

Wellington - Wednesday 6 March 2002

Fish Leave Sour Taste

Fishing Industry Overturning Of North Island Hector's Dolphin Protection Deplored

"New Zealanders and Australians should use their consumer power to show their dismay at the fishing industry legal action that was revealed today to have overturned regulations to protect the critically endangered North Island Hector's dolphin, says Cath Wallace of ECO, the New Zealand environmental umbrella group.

"This rarest of the marine dolphins is at risk from set net fishing, particularly for rig (spotted dogfish or gummy shark). At a May 2000 workshop the independent scientists agreed that the population would be at great risk from more than the loss of one animal from human-induced deaths in five years.

The High Court in Wellington New Zealand today overturned the regulations brought in by the Minister of Fisheries to protect the remaining animals on two matters of law relating to the information used and the way in which the Minister and his advisers had referred to the science behind the May 2000 workshop's conclusions. The court acknowledged "the clear evidence of the vulnerability of Hector Dolphin to extinction".

"People the world over will be appalled that the New Zealand fishing industry has challenged the protective measures. New Zealanders and Australians may wish to avoid eating fish, particularly rig (which are a shark or dogfish) since the "fish" may well have been caught at the expense of the endangered North Island Hector's Dolphin, says Cath Wallace, co-chairperson of ECO.

"It beggars the imagination that anyone could think that it is ok to put at risk a species of which the court judgement records there being somewhere between 33 and 150 animals left. The North Island Inshore Fishing Company has claimed that a voluntary restriction of much less scope will be just as good. We do not agree.

"It is official information that there have been 7 known deaths from human-induced sources of the dolphins in the last 2 years and two in the last fortnight. Where does the effort of the fishing industry go? Not to saving the animals but into putting the species into further risk of extinction.

"The fishing industry is showing its true disregard for the environment here. There is always a lot of rhetoric about their concern for the environment but this makes the extent of that plain.

"Curiously, this action by the industry is likely to do them more economic damage than good. It is already attracting considerable international attention and is likely to damage the reputation of all New Zealand seafood products, particularly of course the exports from the North Island Inshore Fishing Company, as well as their local sales.

"New Zealand and Australian consumers can show their disapproval by avoiding fish, especially that sold by fish and chip shops which is quite likely to be rig.

Ends


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