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Dolphin Proposals Inadequate

1 May 2002

Both of the Ministry of Fisheries proposals to protect North Island Hector’s dolphins have major holes, and neither will result in the level of protection needed for the world’s rarest marine dolphin, according to WWF.

“During the past 12 months six dolphins have died, even though many of the measures in these proposals have been in place, said WWF Director of Conservation Chris Howe.

“Neither proposal mentions recreational set netting - which is thought to have caused a number of the recent deaths - or observer coverage on trawlers, which was in the Minister’s original measures. WWF can’t understand why these measures should be watered down, when the only thing that’s changed since they were imposed is that more dolphins have died.”

“However it is heartening to see that our call for a set netting ban in harbours has been partially heeded.”

“The significant gap in the proposals is they do not contain any plans for enforcement. How will MFish police the management measures? Who will pay for them? And most importantly, what consequences will there be if a dolphin is caught? WWF will be taking these questions, and a few answers, to the consultation process.”

“There is also the question of public education. While WWF’s schools education programme has been well received on the West Coast, on-the-spot adult education, in several languages, is the only way to ensure recreational fishers know they are not allowed to net in the dolphin’s range.”

“WWF once again calls for implementation of emergency protection measures under the Fisheries Act, a species recovery plan, and a marine mammal sanctuary within the full range of the North Island Hector’s dolphin.”

“Only strong measures, properly enforced, will ensure a future for the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin.”

Ends

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