Set Net Summer Closure In Coastal Canterbury
Hector's dolphin will be swimming more safely over summer, since the set net prohibition in Canterbury coastal waters came into force on 1 October 2002.
Hector's dolphins are found only in New Zealand waters and are one of the world's rarest marine dolphins.
"The prohibition on recreational set netting covers the time when Hector's dolphin come close inshore for breeding and are vulnerable to the impacts of set nets," said Rose Grindley, senior fisheries management advisor for the Ministry of Fisheries.
"We encourage Canterbury recreational set netters to abide by the summer prohibition in order to give Hector's dolphin the best chance of improving its numbers."
Between 1 October 2002 and 31 March 2003 set netting is prohibited in most coastal Canterbury waters between the Waiau River and the Waitaki River and out to four nautical miles. The prohibition excludes inland waters such as rivers, estuaries, lagoons and lakes, but does include the Avon-Heathcote Estuary.
During the months of October and March, recreational set netting is permitted in the Banks Peninsula flounder areas and the South Timaru reef area.
The Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary set-net restrictions still continue to apply all year around.
Canterbury Hector's dolphins make up two thirds (1200 animals) of the wider East Coast South Island population. The set net prohibition was put in place in Canterbury waters for the first time last summer, to ensure Hector's dolphin mortalities are avoided, remedied and mitigated.
Richard Suggate, North Canterbury Area Manager for the Department of Conservation said that Hector's dolphin was declared a threatened species by the Minister of Conservation in December 1999. This places additional responsibilities for its protection on the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation.
"Both departments have asked recreational fishers to help protect Hector's dolphins by complying with the prohibition," he said.
The Department of Conservation is developing a population management plan for Hector's dolphin which will provide long term measures to protect the dolphin. A draft of this plan should be available for public input early next year.