Fishing group opposes set net ban

Date: 3/10/2007

Evidence surrounding the deaths of critically endangered Maui’s dolphins does not support a need to ban set netting in west coast harbours of the North Island, says a fishing lobby group. Conservation Minister Chris Carter released a draft plan to help protect Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins. Included in the draft plan is a proposal to set up marine mammal sanctuaries and ban set nets in areas where the dolphins roam. It is thought that only 111 Maui’s dolphins are left in New Zealand, these are found from Maunganui Bluff down to Taranaki. They are a sub-species of the Hector’s dolphins of which there is an estimated population of about 7000 in the South Island. Proposed options for the Maui’s dolphins ranged from maintaining the status quo to imposing full set net bans in areas where they roamed. Submissions close on 24 October with a decision expected in November and interim measures could be in place by the year’s end. Maui’s dolphins mature late (7-9 years), have a slow reproductive rate (one calf every 2-3 years) and live to around 20 years old. There may be fewer than 30 breeding females in the small population.

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