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Massive Purse Seine Fishers horrifies dolphin defenders

Sunday 2 February 2016

Massive Purse Seine Fishers Close to Shore Among Endangered Māui Dolphins Leaves Communities Aghast

Reports of Māui dolphins inshore with surfers at Piha this week have coincided with local resident concerns about purse seine fishing close to shore.

The 61m Talley’s purse seiner, the Eagle, fishing for skipjack tuna, has been seen just beyond iconic Lion Rock at Piha over the past week and has left both conservationists and local coastal communities aghast at current West Coast fisheries management.

At the same time, endangered Māui dolphins have been swimming inshore among surfers, meaning the dolphins are at direct risk of entrapment. Reports today and photos on various Piha facebook pages over recent weeks, show commercial purse seine fishing vessels what locals estimate as close as 350m from shore. Locals from the Piha Deep Sea Fishing Club indicate the indiscriminate purse seine fishing operation was occurring an incredible 150 m from shore.

Māui and Hector’s dolphin advocate, Christine Rose, says “Gill nets are banned in the area out to only 2nm nautical miles offshore, offering inadequate protection for the last 55 Māui dolphins. But seeing these fishing boats so close to shore has us all alarmed at what’s being done to the ocean”.

Mrs Rose, Chair of Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders says “Both local recreational fishermen and residents are aghast at what they see as flagrant fisheries abuse with these massive commercial fishing vessels so close to shore”. “They say it’s no wonder they find it harder to catch fish with a line and hook”.

“But of significant concern is that Māui dolphins, the world’s rarest and smallest dolphin, are clearly in waters where these indiscriminate nets are scooping up everything in their path.” “Scientific consensus is that gill nets are the greatest threat to Māui and Hector’s dolphins. With three or four Māui killed in nets every year. That’s clearly an unsustainable rate. Māui dolphins can’t withstand a single human-induced death in the next 21 years if the species is to avoid extinction. “At Piha right now, it’s feared extinction is happening before our eyes”.

“Large scale, indiscriminate commercial purse seine fishing Boats at Piha are a stone’s throw from shore while surfers swim with Māui dolphins in their wake” says Mrs Rose.

ENDS

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