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Ban Trawling In Hector’s Habitat Say Dolphin Defenders, After Another Dolphin Death

The second Otago Hector’s dolphin killed by the fishing industry this year, was reported today (December 12). The dolphin is among at least 15 Hector’s deaths reported across the country in the last year.

There are only around 40 Hector’s dolphins in the Otago population. This latest death ramps up the urgency of better protection for them all, say advocates from Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders NZ.

“Every life matters”, says Christine Rose, Chair of the Dolphin Defenders group. “It’s unacceptable for these nationally vulnerable dolphins to be killed”.

It is expected that more bycatch will be reported with the introduction of cameras on much of the industrial fishing fleet. “This death isn’t surprising, but it’s tragic all the same”, says Rose.

Rose notes that in this instance the Hector’s dolphin was initially reported as a different species. A review of the footage showed that was incorrect.

“Cameras on boats are already showing their worth”, she says.

“But cameras don’t stop dolphin entanglement to start with. None of the industry’s voluntary measures are working either. The industry is the problem. It’s time for regulation.”

Rose says “No New Zealanders want to see Hector’s dolphins drowning in fishing industry nets. Now cameras are revealing the scale of real industry pressure on Hector’s dolphins. This must be a trigger for action”.

“That means exclusion of set and trawl nets from Hector’s habitat”, says Rose.

Dolphin Defenders Deputy Chair Genevieve Robinson says, “If we fail to regulate to exclude set and trawl nets, dolphins will continue to die. We are failing the dolphins”.

Rose says, “Regional Councils also have the power to regulate fishing impacts now. Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders is currently calling on ECan to protect Hector’s in the Council’s Regional Plan : Coastal.”

“Too many dolphins are being killed, and everyone who has the power to stop that, must”.

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