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

Gaza.Scoop: Another Israeli Attack On A Hospital

Israeli tanks attacked Al Aqsa hospital in Deir Al Balah, killing five patients and doctors, and injuring more than 70.

The third and fourth floors, housing the emergency department, orthopaedic department, surgical department, and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) were destroyed. Operating theatres had to cease work because of the lack of oxygen.

Patients are being evacuated to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, and the European Gaza Hospital between Rafah and Khan Younes. More>>

 

Parliament Today:

Red Tape: Local Regulations Go Under Microscope

The Government says it is accepting nearly all of the recommendations the Productivity Commission has made on ways to improve local regulations. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Non-Apology To Tania Billingsley

The refusal by Prime Minister John Key to issue a personal apology to Tania Billingsley has been accompanied by an array of excuses... Yesterday though, Key’s choice of words indicated that an apology was the last thing on his mind. More>>

ALSO:

Conventions: Winston Peters On The Nation

Winston Peters opens door to standing in East Coast Bays electorate, says it's an "exciting point" and he's thinking about it. "I’ve had a whole lot of people writing to me and calling up and saying ‘why don’t you have a go in East Coast Bays’." More>>

ALSO:

Waitangi Tribunal: Report On The MV Rena

In its interim report, the Waitangi Tribunal has found that the Crown’s conduct in response to the grounding of the MV Rena on Otaiti (Astrolabe) reef breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. More>>

ALSO:

Gaza: Wellington Protest For Palestine Calls For End To Bombing

Around 300 people gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Wellington on Friday to protest Israel’s occupation of Palestine. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Failure To Prosecute The GCSB

So one hand of the state – the Independent Police Conduct Authority – has now washed the hands of its brother agencies, and declared that all hands are clean. Case closed. More>>

ALSO:

Illegal Search: Police Behaviour 'Reminiscent Of Tūhoe Raids'

"Māori will lose further trust and confidence in the New Zealand Police and the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) if the recent incident in Stratford is not adequately addressed. This behaviour would not occur in Epsom or Khandallah so why should police think that such behaviour was acceptable in Stratford," says Chris McKenzie. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Dotcom Emails

The Dotcom residency decision fails any number of sniff tests... Why, then, was it approved? Here we get into the realm of the “INZ being under political pressure” to approve Dotcom’s application. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Shonky Police Statistics, And The Israeli Air Strikes On Gaza

When people systematically alter how being statistics are recorded in order to gain personal and organisational advantage, that’s usually when the Police get called in. Yet in the case of the burglary statistics in Counties-Manakau, it was the Police doing the fudging and – at the time – it was then-Police Minister Judith Collins claiming the credit... More>>

ALSO:

'Clean Rivers': Green Party Launches Key Election Priority

The Green Party will make a series of announcements over the course of the election campaign in which it will outline the specifics of how it will clean up our rivers and protect our beaches. In the first of these announcements the party launched its plan for clean rivers. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news