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

Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Debate, And The Collins Accusation

Debating is a peculiar discipline in that what you say is less important than how you’re saying it. Looking poised, being articulate and staying on topic generally wins the day – and on that score, Labour leader David Cunliffe won what turned out to be a bruising encounter with Prime Minister John Key last night on TVNZ.

Cunliffe marshalled his points better, kept Key off balance and – more often than not – was in control of the general tenor of the contest. Labour supporters would have been heartened, and given some belated reassurance that maybe the change of leadership last year had been the right decision. More>>

 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On Winston Peters' Latest Bout Of Immigrant Bashing

It is only one poll, but rather than cannibalising each other's vote, Colin Craig and Winston Peters do seem to be managing to find the room to co-exist... Few are questioning how Peters got to this happy place, and what it says about the mood of the electorate. More>>

ALSO:

More Immigration News: First People Trafficking Charges

The first people trafficking charges in New Zealand have been brought by Immigration New Zealand (INZ)... The defendants have been charged under the Crimes Act 1961 for arranging by deception the entry of 18 Indian nationals into New Zealand. More>>

Collins 'Misinterprets Media Reports': "Too Compromised To Remain Justice Minister"

Bizarre claims by Judith Collins this morning that she had been cleared of inappropriate behaviour by the Privacy Commissioner demonstrates she is too compromised to remain Justice Minister, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. More>>

ALSO:

Labour On Climate Change: Focus On The Now For The Future

A Labour Government will put in place a comprehensive climate change strategy focusing on both mitigation and adaptation, establish an independent Climate Commission and implement carbon budgeting, says Labour Climate Change spokesperson Moana Mackey. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Housing Assistance Plan

So, as many as 90,000 people could derive some benefit from National’s housing assistance plans for low and middle-income earners... Yet in reality, the benefits seem likely to be insignificant, and they will be skewed towards those at the top end of the income group that’s supposedly the target. More>>

ALSO:

Election Data Consortium: National’s Worst Case Scenario At Stage One?

A month out from the general election and ipredict traders are still forecasting National’s vote to slip below current polling levels and there is potential for it to fall further. More>>

ALSO:

From The Scoop Video Archive: PM Says SIS "Told Me" About OIA Release

In a press conference immediately following an controversial OIA release of notes on an SIS briefing to then Labour leader Phil Goff, Key said "at that point [Tucker] told me he'd release it ...". Since the release of Nicky Hager's 'Dirty Politics' Key has denied being personally informed and said references by officials to 'the PM' being told briefed referred to his office. He now says the same about his own statement. More>>

ALSO:

  • Scoop Video in the news - New questions over Key claims | NZ Herald News - Stuff.co.nz
  • Earlier - Felix Marwick: Laying out facts over SIS documents - Newstalk ZB
  • Labour - Director’s letter contradicts Key’s claims
  • ACT - The Letter - 26 days to go
  • TV3 Video - Housing issue nudges Dirty Politics aside - David Cunliffe: Key's SIS explanation 'defies belief' - SIS leak came from Key's Office - Goff - Key 'categorically denies' Slater OIA discussion - Video: Key faces more Dirty Politics questions

  • TVNZ - Winston Peters: ‘Dirty Politics' is a new low
  • The Nation - Debate Between Grant Robertson And Russel Norman
  • NZ First - “The Words Mean What I Say They Mean”
  • Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
    More RSS  RSS News AlertsNews Alerts
     
     
     
    Politics
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news