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Extended Net Ban is Going to Far, Say Fishermen

Sustainability Politics +2 more

NEW ZEALAND - The Conservation and Primary Industries Ministers' proposal to extend the set net ban along the Taranaki coast while undertaking a review of Hector's and Maui's dolphins is a knee jerk reaction that does not consider the full picture, says the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen.

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"Like all New Zealanders we are very concerned at the possibility of a decline in Maui's dolphins and we want careful and successful management of this endangered species", said Doug Saunders-Loder President of the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen.

"However, this proposal puts the blame at the fishermen's door and ignores all the other known factors including disease, pollution and natural predators such as sharks and orcas," Mr Saunders-Loder said.

"We will look closely at DOC's report and the numbers they have come up with but frankly based on past experience we don't think they're open to hearing our views and we're concerned they will not give industry a fair go.

Keith Mawson of Egmont Seafoods in Taranaki said the proposal was hugely disappointing and concerning for the local fishing community whose livelihood was at stake; "the local fishing community here in Taranaki feels it is being used as the scapegoat to appease extremists' concerns.

"The Department of Conservation has had no recovery plan in place and has done little research on dolphins in the Taranaki area. Now they're panicking by fast-tracking a proposal that is in danger of not delivering the results we all want, which is a thriving dolphin population.

"For example, the proposal includes closing the fishery to Hawera yet the biopsy sample programme detected no Maui's dolphins south of Raglan."

Mr Mawson said that set netting is already banned throughout the area where the research found Maui's dolphins.

The Taranaki fishing community met with MAF and DOC last week and expressed their willingness to assist in information gathering, including working with Government agencies to look at ways of identifying and tagging the marine mammals.

There has only been one reported fishing-related mortality death of a Hector's/Maui's dolphin in the Taranaki area in the last 25 years and this was reported in January 2012.