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Min. of Conservation must use all his influence

Press Release 29 August 2002

Minister of Conservation must use all his influence

Already delayed by nearly two months, the Minister of Fisheries is due to announce measures to protect the critically endangered North Island Hector's dolphin from fishing on the west coast of the North Island.

Before making his decision, Pete Hodgson must consult the new Minister of Conservation, and WWF understands Chris Carter has a matter of days to make his response.

“WWF urges Mr Carter to recommend the strongest action possible for protecting the world’s rarest marine dolphin”, said Chris Howe, Conservation Director for WWF New Zealand.

"Chris Carter’s first recommendation as Minister is one of the most closely watched, as the 15,000 plus emails to the Ministry of Fisheries from WWF supporters shows. It is also one of the most important.”

WWF is calling on Chris Carter to insist that the decision includes at least:

- A ban on all set netting in the dolphin's range, including in harbours
- Observers on all trawlers within four nautical miles of the coast
- Clear actions to enforce a new ban on commercial set netting, and to raise awareness about the existing recreational ban

"It is vital that the dolphin is fully protected before the new fishing season starts on 1 October", said Chris Howe.

At least three dolphins died last summer from drowning in set nets, including one in a commercial set net. The population, which numbers less than 100, can only withstand one human-induced death every seven years.


Notes:

1. The North Island Hector's dolphin is the world's rarest marine dolphin. The population numbers less than 100, and is found between Maunganui Bluff and Pariokariwa Point on the West Coast of the North Island.
2. A previous package of management measures, made in August 2001, was overturned by judicial review in March 2002, leaving the critically endangered dolphin at risk from drowning in set nets.
3. WWF's full submission to the Minister of Fisheries can be found at www.wwf.org.nz, setting out all of WWF's recommendations for his decision.


For further information contact:
Megan Huber, Communications Manager, WWF New Zealand, Megan.huber@wwf.org.nz
Tel: (04) 499-2930 Fax: (04) 499-2954

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