Canterbury fishermen asked to help prevent dolphin deaths
Hon Pete Hodgson Minister of Fisheries
Hon Sandra Lee Minister of Conservation
1 March 2001
Canterbury recreational fishermen have been asked to help prevent the deaths of the endangered Hector's dolphin by stopping using set nets.
Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee and Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson are alarmed at the growing number of accidental deaths of Hector's dolphins caught in recreational set nets.
"In the last six weeks, four Hector's dolphin have been found with marks consistent with entanglement in set nets, including one recovered from a recreational set net," the ministers said. "Four dead dolphins in six weeks is simply not acceptable. Low reproductive rates make the Hector's dolphin population particularly vulnerable to any additional deaths from human causes such as set netting."
Investigation of the dolphin deaths indicates that all have resulted from recreational rather than commercial set netting.
The ministers are asking recreational fishermen to stop set netting from north of the Waiau River to just south of the Waitaki River, including within the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary. Recreational set netting is usually allowed in the sanctuary from 1 March until 30 September.
The ministers said the number of dolphin deaths this year had prompted the Government to regulate for a temporary ban on recreational set netting in the area described.
"These regulations will be ready in about a month. In the meantime we are asking recreational fishers to stop using set nets voluntarily."
Recreational set netters in Canterbury have already responded positively to voluntary dolphin protection measures including codes of practice, education programmes and area closures.
Hector's dolphins are found only in New Zealand's waters and are one of the world's rarest marine dolphins. In December 1999 the Minister of Conservation declared them a threatened species.
Graeme Speden, press secretary (Fisheries) 04 471 9707 or 025 270 9055