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Fishers Who Break Set Net Ban Now Face $20k Fine

Media release from WWF, the conservation organisation.
23 September, 2003.

Recreational fishers who break the set net ban now face $20,000 fine.

WWF commends the government decision to increase the fine from $250 to a maximum of $20,000 for recreational fishers who break the Maui's dolphin set net ban along the North Island West Coast. The Minister of Fisheries in January 2003 approved a commercial and recreational set net ban from Dargaville to New Plymouth and into Manukau harbour to protect the critically endangered Maui's dolphin. There are thought to be fewer than 100 dolphins left alive, and they are at great risk from entanglement in set nets and subsequent drowning.

"It has taken some time for this set net ban to come into effect, however, we welcome the fine increase for illegal recreational set netting in the Maui's protection zone and congratulate the Minister on this excellent initiative," says Jo Breese, WWF Chief Executive.

WWF notes that the effectiveness of an increased fine for illegal recreational set netting will depend on the enforcement of this decision. We urge the Ministry of Fisheries to ensure the recreational and commercial set net ban and related fines are enforced over the coming summer.

"More than one human induced death every seven years seriously threatens the Maui's chances of recovery. Despite this, since July 2001, seven dead Maui's dolphins have been found. Two were in fishing nets, two showed signs of being entangled in nets, two were too badly decomposed to tell and one dolphin died of natural causes. We can't afford any more Maui's dolphin deaths and this tougher fine is a significant deterrent," says Jo Breese, WWF Chief Executive.

Notes:

- From 3 October, all set netting is prohibited within 4 nautical miles of the coast from Maunganui Bluff (north of Dargaville) to Pariokariwa Point (north of New Plymouth) and the entrance to Manukau harbour. Promptly report any set nets operating within the closed area. Call the Ministry of Fisheries hotline on 0800 4 POACHER

- WWF has developed a Sightings Network for the Maui's dolphin. The public reporting of sightings is vital for researchers to find out to what extent Maui's are using the North Island West Coast harbours. Call 0800 4 MAUIS to submit a report.

- Commercial fishers who break the Maui's dolphin set net ban face fines of up to $100,000 plus loss of equipment.

- Maui's dolphin has been recognised as a new sub-species, and was formerly known as the North Island Hector's dolphin.


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