High Court rules on dolphin legal challenge
24 February 2010
Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley has commented on today's release of the High Court's judgment on the inshore fishing industry's legal challenge to the closure of some areas to set net and trawl fishing, put in place in 2008 to protect Hector's and Maui's dolphins.
"This is an important judgment on a major issue for both commercial and recreational fishers and we are considering it carefully," Mr Heatley said.
"I will be taking advice from officials on the implications of the judgment and the steps that need to be taken," he said.
The legal challenge centred around six specific restrictions that flowed out of decisions by the previous Minister of Fisheries on area closures and fishing method restrictions to manage the threat posed by fishing to Hector's and Maui's dolphins.
The High Court has ruled that two of these restrictions should be referred back to the Minister of Fisheries for reconsideration. These are the extension of set net closures on the North Island's West Coast from four nautical miles to seven nautical miles and the closure of an area of the South Island's East Coast to targeted fishing for butterfish.
The other four restrictions subject to the legal challenge have been upheld by the Court. These restrictions relate to:
- The extension of the set netting prohibition further into the Manukau Harbour
- The seasonal two nautical miles set net prohibition on the West Coast of the South Island
- The four nautical mile set net closure outside Te Waewae Bay of the South Island
- The decision not to exempt the targeted fishing of butterfish in the Bluff area
The closure of areas around the South Island and on the North Island's north-west coast to set net and drift net fishing by recreational fishers are not affected by this judgment and remain in force at this time.
More information on the closures is available on the Ministry of Fisheries website at www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Environmental/Hectors+Dolphins/default.htm