Overwhelming response delays dolphin decision
29 November 2007
A huge number of submissions raising complex issues means final decisions on the Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan will not be made until early next year, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton and Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick announced today.
“We have received 2475 submissions on the draft plan to protect Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins from concerned people all over New Zealand and overseas,” Jim Anderton said.
“People have taken the time to supply us with a considerable amount of information about threats to the dolphins and the possible impacts on commercial, recreational, and customary fishing from the measures proposed. We want to take the time necessary to consider all of this information before we make any decisions.
“Deciding on how best to protect Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, while recognising the impact of measures on people’s livelihoods, is not a decision to be made lightly or to be rushed. Given the amount of information supplied we expect to make a decision in March of next year, instead of December this year.”
“The overwhelming number of submissions gives us great confidence that people in fishing and environmental communities recognise the importance of these dolphins,” Steve Chadwick said.
“They are a national treasure, or taonga, that we cannot afford to lose. The Maui dolphins are down to just 111 individuals, making it the rarest marine dolphin in the world.”
Jim Anderton said it has also been decided not to introduce immediate interim measures over the summer, because there are a number already in place, and any further measures must also consider the feedback from consultation over the management plan.
“We will be monitoring the situation carefully over the summer months, and if a fishing-related incident occurs that requires urgent action, I have powers to do what is necessary under the Fisheries Act.”
The Ministry of Fisheries is also working with the Department of Conservation on a comprehensive education and awareness campaign to highlight the need for good fishing practice over the summer when the dolphins are closer inshore.
The two departments will continue to monitor compliance with existing mandatory measures for managing the effects of fishing on Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins.