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Net Ban Announcement Devastating for Taranaki Fishing Industry

NEW ZEALAND - The interim set net ban announced by the government will have a devastating impact on the Taranaki fishing industry and will do nothing to save the Maui's dolphins say Taranaki fishermen, says the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council.

"Set net fishing is already excluded from large sections of the west coast of the North Island, which covers all the observed range of Maui's dolphins. So any further exclusions, particularly in areas where there have been no live sightings of Maui's dolphins, are not going to make any difference to their plight," says Keith Mawson, representing the Taranaki commercial fishermen.

Mr Mawson says that if the interim ban becomes permanent this is likely to result in the loss of up to 50 jobs and NZ$15 million in annual income for the Taranaki region.

"This interim ban couldn't come at a worse time for the local fisherman as this is the middle of winter when they are targeting blue warehou in the area being closed. Some of the fishermen are just making ends meet now and any closure will seriously jeopardise their ability to survive in the fishing industry."

"Like all New Zealanders we are very concerned at the plight of the Maui's dolphins and we want careful and successful management of this endangered species, but the decisions need to be based on solid scientific evidence. Otherwise the only outcome will be an extinct Maui's and an extinct local fishing industry."

"We have had only one fishing related mortality of a dolphin in the Taranaki region in the past 20 years and the evidence shows that this was more likely to have been a Hector's, not a Maui's dolphin. Is this remote threat enough to shut an entire fishery down with the loss of 50 jobs?" he concluded.

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Lucy Towers

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