SET NETTING BANNED AT MANUKAU HARBOUR ENTRANCE AND ALONG NORTH ISLAND WEST COAST
29 September 2003
Prohibitions on all set netting in the Manukau Harbour entrance area and on commercial set netting along much of the West Coast come into effect on Friday, 3 October, 2003.
The restrictions, which have been signalled for some time, prohibit all set netting in the Manukau Harbour west of Puponga Point (Cornwallis), to a point 0.5 nautical miles north of Kauri Point (eastern end of Big Bay), and then to Kauri Point. Commercial set netting is now prohibited (recreational netting is already banned), within four nautical miles of the coast from Maunganui Bluff (north of Dargaville) to Pariokariwa Point (north of New Plymouth).
The new restrictions on netting are intended to protect the small, critically endangered population of Maui's dolphins. These dolphins are found only on the west coast of the North Island. Set net fishing poses a major risk to Maui's dolphins. Like all marine mammals they need to breathe air to survive, which means that they must surface regularly. If they become entangled in set nets, they drown.
Fisheries Minister, Hon Pete Hodgson decided that the restrictions were necessary following a consultation process involving extensive discussions with stakeholders. The outcome is Mr Hodgson's decision that commercial set netting poses too much of a risk to the dolphins to be allowed to continue within the coastal region.
Information showing that the dolphins come into the Manukau Harbour entrance area led the Minister to decide that a netting ban was needed there too.
The severity of the risk that netting represents for these small dolphins is reflected in the penalties that apply to anyone convicted for using nets within the closed areas. Amateur fishers who do so face fines of up to $20,000 plus forfeiture of their fishing equipment. For commercial fishers fines may be up to $100,000 plus loss of their equipment.
An anomaly that exists where fines for the area currently closed to amateur netting between Maunganui Bluff and Pariokariwa Point are substantially lower than those that apply to the Manukau area is in the process of being corrected. This means that the $20,000 fine will shortly apply to the coastal region as well.
The Ministry of Fisheries Compliance team intend to maintain a close watch on the closed areas over the coming months. In addition, the Ministry of Fisheries and Department of Conservation are embarking on a public relations campaign, informing people about the new controls and about ways that they can help protect these rare creatures.
For further Information please contact:
District Compliance Manager
Ministry of Fisheries
Tel. 09 820 7653
Maunganui Bluff - Pariokawira Point 4 nautical mile commercial set net closed area
Manukau Harbour entrance area closure to recreational and commercial set netting