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Endangered dolphin death deserves proper investigation

Non-reporting of endangered dolphin death deserves proper investigation

The government today released a limited report on its failure to prosecute fish dumping outlined in Operation Achilles report, but has failed to address why an endangered Hector’s dolphin death that was caught on camera was never officially reported, said WWF-New Zealand.

“MPI failed to ensure that an endangered Hector’s dolphin death in a fishing net, which it had video footage of, was reported,” said Alex Smith, Senior Campaigner, WWF-New Zealand.

“We need to know why that happened and how wide spread the problem is,” he said.

“Nearly four months after the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced an independent review into its failure to prosecute fish dumping outlined in the leaked Operation Achilles report, it is unclear whether there has been any investigation into non-reporting of dolphin deaths.”

WWF has written to the MPI and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and asked for this serious issue to be investigated. On 12 July, MPI’s Director-General Martyn Dunne replied that the non-reporting of the Hector’s death would be investigated further but provided no details as to what this would entail.

Alex Smith said on 13 July, WWF asked MPI for further details on the scope of the investigation, whether it would be independent and made public.

“We also asked for the investigation to cover the wider issue of potential non-reporting of dolphin deaths,” he said.

“More than two months later, we have still not heard anything about whether the government will ensure there is a proper independent investigation into the issue of the non-reporting of endangered dolphin deaths.

“It is deeply worrying that Minister Guy and MPI do not seem to be taking this issue seriously.

“If the Ministry knows about dolphin deaths that are caught on camera and is still not reporting these, then what happens when Hector’s and Māui dolphins die in fishing nets off camera?”

Hector’s and Māui dolphins are New Zealand’s national treasures – these beautiful, tiny marine mammals only live in New Zealand’s coastal waters – nowhere else in the world. Set netting and trawling are the biggest threats to their survival.

“We cannot ensure the survival of these dolphin populations if the true nature and extent of the threats they face are kept secret,” Alex Smith said.


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