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Consultation On Set Net Closures Begins


NEW ZEALAND - The Ministry of Fisheries has today opened public consultation on options for managing the impacts on fishing from set nets on Mauis and Hectors dolphins in two areas where the Minister has been asked to reconsider previous decisions as a result of a High Court ruling.

The ruling is the result of a legal challenge by the fishing industry lodged in 2008. The legal challenge centred around six specific area closures and fishing method restrictions, put in place by the previous Minister of Fisheries to manage the threat to Hector's and Maui's dolphins posed by fishing.

The High Court ruled in February this year that two of these restrictions should be referred back to the Minister of Fisheries for reconsideration. These are the extension of set net closures on the North Island's West Coast from four nautical miles to seven nautical miles and the previous Minister’s decision to not allow an exemption for commercial butterfish fishing in an area at the top of the South Island's East Coast.

“The Ministry of Fisheries has released a consultation paper with a range of options for the two areas the High Court has referred back for reconsideration,” said Ministry of Fisheries Inshore Fisheries Team Leader Steve Halley.

“The Ministry is seeking the public’s views on which option they prefer,” Mr Halley said. “All submissions are welcome and will be carefully considered before any decision is made.”

The other four restrictions subject to the legal challenge were upheld by the Court and are not proposed to change. These restrictions relate to:

  • The extension of set netting prohibitions further into the Manukau Harbour
  • The seasonal two nautical miles set net prohibition on the West Coast of the South Island
  • The four nautical mile set net closure outside Te Waewae Bay of the South Island
  • The decision not to exempt the targeted fishing of butterfish in the Bluff area.
The consultation paper is available here . Submissions close on Tuesday 12 October 2010.