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Maui’s proposal too little too late

6 September 2013

Maui’s proposal too little too late

The Conservation Minister is postponing action on Maui’s dolphin protection when action is needed immediately, the Green Party said today.

“We don’t need another consultation, we need the Government to listen to the scientific consensus and ensure Maui’s dolphin habitat is free of lethal fishing methods,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

Ms Sage was responding to Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith’s announcement that he is consulting the public on a proposed 350 square kilometre extension to the set net free area off the Taranaki coast. The Government asked for public submissions on similar proposal in April 2012 when it was introducing interim protection measures for Maui’s dolphins; and consulted the public again on the Maui’s Threat Management Plan in November 2012. The Threat Management Plan has yet to be implemented.

“The Government is recklessly risking the extinction of the Maui’s dolphin by continuing to allow lethal fishing methods to be used in Maui’s dolphin habitat and delaying action,” said Ms Sage.

“The Government should listen to the scientific consensus that gillnet and trawl fisheries need to be closed in all areas where Maui’s dolphins live, out to the 100 metre depth contour.

“The International Whaling Commission’s 2012 Scientific Committee, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Society for Marine Mammology, which has 2,000 scientists, have called for all areas where these dolphins are found to be closed to gillnets and trawl nets out to the 100 metre depth contour, but our Government refuses to listen.

“Scientists say that dolphins prefer to swim in waters less than 100 metres deep but the Government doesn’t protect much of their range out to the 100 metre depth contour.

“For example, the Government has a marine mammal sanctuary offshore from Maunganui Bluff in Northland to Oakura in Taranaki, but allows lethal gill net fishing in 42% of the sanctuary and lethal trawl fishing in over 80% of the sanctuary.

“The proposed extension to the set net free area is a welcome proposal, however much more is needed to keep Maui’s dolphins from sliding closer to extinction.

“We can’t afford to kill even one more Maui’s dolphin.

“Maui’s dolphins – the world’s most endangered dolphin – are only found in New Zealand, and they need greater protection immediately,” said Ms Sage.

ENDS

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