Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Poor Government Science Is Letting Down NZ’s Dolphins

For immediate release: 23 February 2014

Poor Government Science Is Letting Down New Zealand’s Dolphins

Despite strong criticism from the world’s leading scientific organisations, the New Zealand government maintains that Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins are adequately protected against fishing. However, information published by the Department of Conservation (DOC) does not support this view. NABU International is alarmed at the lack of consistency, scientific rigour and accountability in the government’s management of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins and disputes the validity of a new estimate of 9,100 Hector’s dolphins off the East Coast South Island.

Maui’s dolphins are amongst the rarest wild animals on earth.  Forty years ago there used to be around 1,800 Maui’s dolphins. Today, there are less than 50. Gillnet and trawl fishing persists across most of the dolphins’ habitat, kills about five individuals a year and will lead to extinction by 2030.

“Every conceivable international scientific body has urged the government to fully protect Maui’s dolphin habitat to secure the dolphins’ survival”, says Dr. Barbara Maas, NABU International’s Head of Endangered Species Conservation.  “This is not the kind of thing that happens every day. Yet, the government simply dismissed this advice and turned to its own officials for support instead – a weak attempt to add credibility to an untenable position that will prove fatal for New Zealand’s only native dolphin.”

The argument centres around disagreement over the dolphins’ distribution. Both Maui’s and the closely related Hector’s dolphins range to a water depth of 100 meters and occasionally beyond.  The Department of Conservation (DOC) accepts this water depth as the offshore boundary for both subspecies. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) too accepts the 100m depth contour as an offshore boundary for Hector’s, but not for Maui’s dolphins.

“Instead of applying a consistent and biologically judicious approach, MPI has created a patchwork of fisheries exclusion zones that reflects industry priorities rather than dolphin distribution.  Boundaries for gillnetting are set at two or seven nautical miles offshore, while protection from trawling only extends to two or four 4 nautical miles. This simply makes no sense.”

As recently as 2012, DOC had argued in favour of protecting Maui’s dolphins to the extremes of their range as a prerequisite for their recovery, criticizing the less wide-ranging  fisheries restrictions  that are now in place as “inadequate” and not representative of “the best available information on the dolphins’ biology”. Then, as now, DOC records include confirmed Maui’s dolphin sightings well beyond the boundaries of current fishing restrictions, which are simply ignored by MPI.

Last week DOC and MPI came out in support of the Government’s decision not to afford the dolphins better protection.  At the same time, the government announced a new estimate of 9,100 Hector’s dolphins off the East Coast South Island. It is based on survey, which is still under review after it had been criticised by experts in New Zealand and overseas.

“One of the problems with the survey is its enormous margin of error, which ranges from 3,000 to 30 million dolphins. Discrepancies of such magnitude are unheard of for surveys of this nature and signify serious technical flaws. Statements about the number of dolphins off the East Coast South Island are therefore premature. It appears that the problem may have been caused by the way the survey was conducted, so it may even have to be repeated. At a cost of some $800,000, this would be an expensive mistake and hardly “great news”.”

“While Maui’s dolphin numbers are declining rapidly, the government is spending its resources on a poorly designed study that is biased towards inflated numbers. These funds could have been used more constructively to help fishermen adopt alternative sources of income that don’t kill endangered dolphins.”

“Maui’s and Hector’s dolphin management is in a mess, and the fact that government officials support a decision made by their Ministers is a non-event” says Dr Maas.  “What’s important is that Maui’s and Hector’s dolphin protection should be based on the best available information and credible and accurate science. Until that happens, New Zealand’s forgotten dolphins don’t stand a chance.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

The Future Of Work: Andrew Little - State Of The Nation 2015

In 2005 when I led the EPMU we worked together with Air New Zealand to find a way to keep engineering jobs that were heading overseas. A lot of these workers were people I’d known for years and they were facing not just losing their jobs but not being able to find the kind of work they do without going overseas. A lot of people were facing personal and financial upheaval.

It was hard work but in the end we kept more than 300 skilled and well-paid jobs in New Zealand. And we managed to benefit Air New Zealand and its workforce with productivity gains too... More>>

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Sabin Case, The Pressures On Greece And (Songs About) Coyotes

Mike Sabin is a National MP, and the current chairman of Parliament’s law and order committee. Yet reportedly, he is being investigated by the Police over an assault complaint... However, the PM will not comment on any aspect of the story. More>>

ALSO:

Houses, ISIS, King (& Catton): PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference

The Prime Minister met with reporters to discuss: • Social housing, the Auckland housing market • The prospect of joining international forces to combat ISIS • David Bain’s compensation • The lowering of the flag for the King of Saudi Arabia's death ... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Tomorrow’s Speeches By John Key And Andrew Little

The Key government has already kicked off the political year on a stridently ideological note, with Environment Minister Nick Smith choosing to lay all manner of sins at the door of the RMA. Tomorrow, the government will wheeling out its best salesman – Prime Minister John Key – to sell its plans for state housing… . More>>

ALSO:

Transport: Auckland Looks To Light Rail

The Board of Auckland Transport has called for an investigation into a light rail network, which could relieve traffic congestion on some of the region’s busiest roads. This stems from work in 2012 (the City Centre Future Access study) which responded to a government request to develop a robust and achievable solution for access to the CBD. More>>

ALSO:

RMA: Smith's Claims Don't Match Evidence - Greens

The Motu group’s research into the impacts of planning rules looked at the costs related to housing development but not the benefits of environmental protections and does not recommend significant changes to the RMA to reduce the cost of new house builds. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Similarities Between John Key And David Cameron

For years now, David Cameron has been the closest available thing to a mentor/analogue to our Prime Minister, such that Key watchers could be interested in an analysis of Cameron that appeared in the British press over the Christmas break. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Ian Fletcher Resignation & GCSB’s New Role

It may well be that after being shoulder-tapped in Queensland for the GCSB job, three years of living in Wellington has been enough for Fletcher and his family, given that the pending review of the GCSB would have required an even longer commitment from him. Three years of Wellington’s weather is enough for anyone... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news