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29, May, 2008

Dolphin decision broadly welcomed - but risks remain


Category: ECO Inc

The Environment and Conservation Organisations today broadly welcomed the decisions of the Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton, and the Minister of Conservation, Steve Chadwick, to reduce the threats on Hector’s and Maui dolphins.

ECO spokesperson, Barry Weeber, said the moves announced today by both Ministers were a major step forward in the conservation of all populations of the endemic Maui and Hector’s dolphin.

“Maui’s dolphin is internationally recognised as critically endangered and Hector’s dolphin is listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union – IUCN specialists on cetaceans.”

Mr Weeber said it was about time the interests of these unique animals were protected.

Mr Weeber said ECO expected the impacts on the fishing industry to be very much lower than stated. “The analysis carried out for the Ministry of Fisheries assumed that there were no alternative fishing techniques and that none of the resources used in fishing would be employed elsewhere, which are both absurd assumptions that cause gross over-estimates of the costs of dolphin protection..”

“The Ministers’ decision is long overdue and comes nearly 20 years after the first major decisions to protect Hector’s dolphin with the establishment of the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary.”

Mr Weeber said the moves to create four new marine mammals sanctuaries would be the first new sanctuaries to be created in New Zealand for over 15 years.

Mr Weeber said it was disappointing that the controls to protect the critically endangered Maui dolphin did not extend further south around Taranaki than Pariokariwa Pt.

“It is essential that the measures include controls on mining over the full area closed to set netting given the high risks to the dolphins posed by minerals activity.”.

Mr Weeber said it was disappointing that there was no proposal for a marine mammal sanctuary on the West Coast of the South Island and the controls in this area were only seasonal.

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For further information contact: Barry Weeber 04-389-1696 or 021-738-807.

Notes:

1. ECO – the Environment and Conservation Organisations was established in 1972 and represents 62 groups with a concern for the environment.