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Friday, January 3, 2014

NZ Government warned it faces legal action and a fishing boycott unless it boosts protection for the critically endangered Mauis Dolphin...

Hector's Dolphins swimming at Porpoise Bay, in...
Hector's Dolphins swimming at Porpoise Bay, in the Catlins, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two Hector's Dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori...
Two Hector's Dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) swimming at Porpoise Bay, in the Catlins, New Zealand. One is expelling air from its blowhole (and spraying a little water) before taking a breath. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The New Zealand Government has been warned it faces possible legal action and a boycott of fish exports unless it boosts protection for the critically endangered Maui's Dolphin.
The small cetaceanis only found in New Zealand waters but it's on the brink of extinction with just 55 adult dolphins left.
Reporter: Dominique Schwartz
Speakers: Kevin Hackwell, Environmental group, Forest and Bird; Keith Mawson, managing director, Egmont Seafood; Nick Smith, New Zealand's environment minister .
SCHWARTZ: The critically endangered Maui's dolphin is found only along the north-western coast of New Zealand. Scientists estimate there are just 55 left and that on current mortality rates there'll be fewer than three adult females within two decades - not enough to keep the species going.
In its 2013 report the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission calls on New Zealand to ban any fishing techniques within the dolphin's range which could see the Maui's end up as by-catch. It says the government should take immediate precautionary action to save the dolphin rather than seek further scientific evidence.
Kevin Hackwell from environmental group Forest and Bird says the report vindicates the campaign to extend the fishing exclusion zones along the North Island's western coast.
HACKWELL: We've been calling for a long time for a ban on set nets through their total range. The other thing is trawling. So we're saying to the fishermen, look, we're not saying don't fish. A lot of the quota species they have, they can use other techniques to catch those fish. They can be using long lines for example.
MAWSON: It's not economically viable for the operators. The species that we are targeting, the fish species that we have quota for on this coastline are for trawl and set net species. They are not for long line species.
SCHWARTZ: Keith Mawson is the managing director of fish processing company Egmont Seafood, based at New Plymouth. He believes the range of the Maui's dolphin, a sub species of Hector's dolphin, is already protected.
MAWSON: In the last 12 months we've had observers on our vessels here in New Plymouth. None of those observers have seen a Maui or Hector dolphin, and in that period also Department of Conversation have done five aerial surveys and six boat surveys and they've not observed any Maui or Hector dolphins either.
SCHWARTZ: New Zealand's environment minister Nick Smith told parliament that he too is not yet convinced more fishing restrictions are needed.
SMITH: If you want to be absolutely precautionary about protection of the Maui's dolphin, then you would ban fishing around New Zealand's entire coast.
Now that would be impractical. We are not going to ban fishing in areas where it's highly unlikely that there will be a Maui's dolphin.
SCHWARTZ: Next week New Zealand's attorney general is due to appear in the International Court of Justice to support Australia's case to stop Japan's so-called scientific whaling. Kevin Hackwell from Forest and Bird says that's to be praised but that the New Zealand government also needs to also take action at home.

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