Govt's dolphin protection proposal 'will cost some jobs'

By Chloe Winter

The Government's new proposal to save Maui's dolphins will result in several job losses in the fishing industry.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced this afternoon a 350 square kilometre extension to the set net fishing ban currently off the coast of Taranaki.

Dr Smith spoke with fisherman in Taranaki to discuss the new proposal.

"I met with 12 fishermen this morning who will be impacted ... it is likely to be several hundred thousand dollars, it will cost some jobs.''

The proposal is set to protect the Maui's dolphin from extinction, with just 55 adult dolphins left.

It involves the ban of set netting which is the act of laying a fine, nylon net along the seabed which the dolphins become tangled in and drown.

There was always the issue of balance, in this case between jobs, business and conservation terms of fishing industry jobs, Dr Smith said.

"There will be people who say this decision isn't enough; there will be others who say it goes too far.''

Since 2000 there have been three confirmed and two probable set net deaths.

The Maui's dolphin is one of New Zealand's most endangered species so the Government is doing everything practically possible to ensure their survival, Dr Smith said.

"The advice from marine scientists is that the single greatest threat to Maui's dolphin is from fishing related mortalities and particularly from set net fishing.

"They advise that any more than one death per 16 years will be setting the Maui on the path for extinction.''

The Government is accepting submissions until October 10, but Green Party conservation spokeswoman Eugenie Sage said that was too late.

"We don't need another consultation, we need the Government to listen to the scientific consensus and ensure Maui's dolphin habitat is free of lethal fishing methods.

"The Government is recklessly risking the extinction of the Maui's dolphin by continuing to allow lethal fishing methods to be used in Maui's dolphin habitat and delaying action,'' Ms Sage said.

Labour Conservation spokeswoman Ruth Dyson also said the Government's new proposal may have come to late to save the species.

"The Government's response to warnings that continued inaction to protect this critically endangered species could lead to their extinction has been extraordinarily slow.

"Nick Smith has finally seen fit to extend the set net ban in Taranaki is definitely a positive move, but with just 55 of these dolphins left it may prove too little, too late.''

- APNZ

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