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Dolphin management measures announced

14 October 2011

Dolphin management measures announced

The Ministry of Fisheries today announced the decision of Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley to allow amateur fishers to use set nets in a defined area at the top of the east coast of the South Island (ECSI).

A general ban on the use of set nets off the ECSI was introduced in 2008 to protect Hector’s dolphins.

In March this year, the ban was lifted for commercial set net fishers taking butterfish in the defined area, after court action. The Minister then asked the Ministry of Fisheries to provide advice on whether the same exemption should apply to amateur fishers.

The Minister considers the risk to Hector’s dolphins to be low in the defined area. Scott Gallacher, Deputy Director General Resource Management and Programmes, says the area is small and Hector’s dolphin populations are not known to reside there.

“To mitigate the low level risk to Hector’s dolphins, amateur fishers using set nets in the defined area will be required to stay with their net at all times while it is set,” Mr Gallacher said.

“The Minister considers a cautious approach is appropriate, because although there have been no confirmed sightings of Hector’s dolphins, they may occasionally transit through the defined area. Amateur set net practices are also highly variable and not easily monitored.”

Changes to the amateur regulations to allow amateur set net fishing in the defined area and implement the “fisher must stay with their net” rule will come into force on 1 May 2012. “Fishers will be given plenty of notice before the new rules take effect,” Mr Gallacher said.

For the Minister’s decision letter, as well as additional information on restrictions related to Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, go to:

http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Environmental/Hectors+Dolphins/default.htm

A map of the defined area is attached to the Minister’s decision letter.

ENDS

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