Dolphin Defenders Call for Immediate Set Net Moratorium

Press Release – Maui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders

Dolphin Defenders Call for Immediate Set Net Moratorium

The killing of five Hector’s dolphins in a commercial fishing net north of Banks Peninsula earlier this year, is being labelled as outrageous, and conservationists dedicated to Māui and Hector’s dolphins are calling for an immediate moratorium on inshore set nets around the New Zealand coast, to preserve this species.

In response to the latest deaths, the Government is proposing to speed up the Threat Management Plan (TMP) review for Māui and Hector’s dolphins. But Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders Chairwoman, Christine Rose, says that’s a ‘Clayton’s’ move, because it just delays essential decisions that need to be made now, and fails to protect dolphins”.

“The TMP is being reviewed this year anyway. It’s just a stalling tactic to avoid making more immediate decisions”. “Anything else is too weak”. “New Zealanders expect more of this Government, and of the Greens as a support partner to it”, says Mrs Rose.

Surveys show that most New Zealanders want better protection of Māui and Hector’s dolphins, but Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders refer to rumours that NZ First support for the fishing industry is behind the Government’s inaction, and deferral of video monitoring. “Either way”, says Mrs Rose, “the Government’s integrity is in question, given the coalition parties’ commitment to better protection for Māui and Hector’s before the election”. “And if this doesn’t trigger urgent action, what will?”

Mrs Rose says “the tragic death of these endemic dolphins, shows what we have always known, that too many dolphins are being killed in indiscriminate set nets. What’s unusual is that this dolphin entrapment was reported by the fisherman concerned”.

“The fisherman has said he has stopped fishing in the (unprotected) area where the dolphins were killed, but that’s immaterial given the distribution of Māui and Hector’s dolphins around our coast, most in the path of trawlers because so little of their habitat is protected”. “There’s nothing stopping any other commercial operator fishing in the area or killing dolphins in other areas where they are found”. “And where protection does apply, there’s minimal monitoring, which is why scientists say many more dolphins are killed than are ever reported”.

Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders repeat their claim alleged on a billboard on the side of Auckland’s Northern Motorway, and as part of a march on Sunday 18 March, that Government inaction is killing these dolphins.

“The death of Māui and Hector’s dolphins in set nets is nothing new, and it’s outrageous. Even Mexico offers more protection for its endangered indigenous dolphins than we do in New Zealand’.

Green MP and Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage claims that democracy is an impediment to the urgent action that’s required to address these losses’. But Mrs Rose says “extinction is not a democratic issue”. “Unless that’s an admission that the Greens are simply outvoted and outsmarted by an extraction and exploitation friendly Government that simply does not prioritise one of the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphins”.

“The Government needs to impose a moratorium on inshore set netting under its sovereign powers, not wait for the clumsy and protracted Threat Management Plan review”.

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