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Fishers Welcome Court Case against Govt over Maui’s Dolphins

Fishers Welcome Court Case against Government over Maui’s Dolphins

Taranaki fishermen are predicting a court case will backfire on the German conservation group NABU.

NABU has said it will take a case to the High Court that new fishing restrictions to protect the endangered Maui’s dolphin are inadequate.

Egmont Seafoods’ Keith Mawson welcomes the move and says the latest restrictions in Taranaki waters are a political decision and not a scientific one.

“Once we get a dispassionate judge in the High Court examining the evidence then NABU will be in for a big shock,” he says.

Keith Mawson says he would expect the court to examine why NABU sent misleading information to the International Whaling Commission.

“After restrictions were put into the known Maui’s habitat in 2003, there hasn’t been a single Maui’s mortality that might be from fishing, recorded by the Department of Conservation,” he says, “Yet NABU told the IWC earlier this year that the rate recorded had gone up to more than one a year.”

Keith Mawson says the High Court would also look at the lack of evidence that Maui’s are ever in Taranaki waters to protect.

“I’m sure a judge will be open minded enough to consider the DNA and tracking evidence that the very rare presence of these type of dolphins off any part of Taranaki are the far more common South Island Hector’s dolphin travelling north,” he says.

Keith Mawson says however that he is sure that the seafood industry and NABU would benefit from meeting up outside a court room and examining real and know threats inside the Maui’s habitat, rather than having to argue fishing restrictions outside it.

‘The elephant in the Maui’s room is disease. Especially toxoplasmosis. I would hope that NABU would share industry concerns that there is next to no research on how this disease could wipe out all the remaining Maui’s all by itself. The Maui’s are very susceptible,” he says.

Keith Mawson also says there is no doubt the number of Maui’s dolphins is at a critical point.

“If the sub-species is actually to be conserved, then there has to be an effort made to assist their reproduction,” he says. “So far groups like NABU have hated the idea of doing anything to help in that respect. I hope that we could change their mind and get it onto the government agenda.”


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