Ministry Concerned About Hector's Dolphin Death
8 February 2002
The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) is concerned about the dead Hector's dolphin found floating in the waters near the Manukau Heads (Auckland) last Sunday.
"At this stage it is too soon to speculate why the dolphin died," said Deputy Chief Executive Stan Crothers. "The dolphin is currently being examined by the Massey University veterinarian team and their report should be available next week."
The North Island Hector's dolphin population is classified as critically endangered. There may only be around 100 Hector's dolphin remaining in the waters from New Plymouth to near Dargaville.
Mr Crothers said MFish had made some preliminary enquiries into an anonymous report that the dolphin was caught and discarded by pair trawlers fishing in the waters from Port Waikato to the Manukau, by contacting local fishers in the area, who had denied making any such report.
MFish investigations indicate that the trawlers were not illegally fishing in the area within one nautical mile of the shore that was closed to single and pair trawling. MFish's satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System indicated that the vessels were mainly fishing 2-4 nautical miles from the shore. The vessels involved were not now pair trawling in the Port Waikato to Manukau area.
Pair trawling used to be the main method on the north-west coast for catching snapper and trevally during the 1970's and 1980's. However, since the early 1990's, single trawling has become the main method, but around 10 - 20 per cent of the catch is still taken by pair trawling.
MFish intends to continue discussions with the trawl fishing companies about the trawl observer programme. These discussions have been on hold because of the Court case (due to be heard on February 18-19) to review the Minister of Fisheries, Hon Pete Hodgson, recent management decisions to protect the North Island Hector's dolphin population.
The Minister's main decision was to ban set netting within four nautical miles of most of the north-west coast. The Minister also decided that there should be an independent observer on the trawlers to determine whether or not the trawlers are catching or are likely to encounter North Island Hector's dolphin.
For further information please contact
Stan Crothers, Deputy Chief Executive, Ministry of Fisheries
04 470 2600