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Greater Action Needed On North Island Hector's Dol

May 1, 2002

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society is disappointed in the options put forward by the Ministry of Fisheries to protect the critically endangered North Island Hector's dolphin.

Forest and Bird's Senior Researcher, Barry Weeber, said that any proposal must give confidence of saving North Island Hector's dolphin from extinction.

"The Ministry of Fisheries discussion paper has failed to deal with the impacts of trawling or provide comprehensive protection from the impacts of set nets on the dolphins."

Mr Weeber said set nets are the biggest human threat to the dolphin. "Any objective for managing fisheries interaction with the dolphin needs to ensure that fishing impacts are reduced to zero."

"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 Weeber said, the Society welcomed moves to protect Hector's dolphin with set net closures proposed in the mouth of the Manukau Harbour but was disappointed that there was no proposals to protect the dolphins seen in the Kaipara Harbour and Raglan Harbour entrances.

Mr Weeber said leaving the threat of trawlers catching Hector's dolphin to a research programme does not give this threat sufficient priority.

"In the East Coast of the South Island several dolphins have been reported drowned in trawl nets. All trawlers entering within in 4 nautical miles of the coast should carry observers to report any dolphin deaths so that action can then be taken."

"The fishing industry needs to realise the seriousness of the situation we are faced with - the extinction of a species."

Mr Weeber said the industry proposal (Proposal 1) would fail to protect the dolphin. "A NIWA research report indicated that the industry option had a much greater chance of making the dolphin go extinct and failing to allow for the dolphin to recover from its perilous state."

ENDS

Notes: Proposal 1: Is basically the proposal put forward by the Northern Inshore Fisheries Company and the main measure is to prohibit set nets within 4 nautical miles from the Southern head of the Manukau Harbour to Taranaki Point.

Proposal 2: This would prohibit set nets between Maunganui Bluff (near Dargaville) to Pariokariwa Point (Near New Plymouth).

Neither option includes measures to control trawling.

In addition the Ministry proposes to close an area inside the Manukau Harbour entrance to set nets.

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