Five Hector's dolphin deaths: Set nets have got to go

Confirmation that five Hector's dolphins have been killed in a single set net off Banks Peninsula will shock the country, and confirms that set nets have no place in a modern fishing industry, says Forest & Bird.

Forest & Bird's Marine Advocate Anton Van Helden says "Set netting is an indiscriminate fishing method that kills dolphins, penguins, and non-target fish alike. We can and must do better than this."

"Outside of marine reserves, endangered species have no protection against these nets, and we know they're dying in greater numbers than are actually being reported."
 
Set netting is most prevalent in the south and east of the South Island, which are hot spots for protected species like yellow-eyed penguins, and Hector's dolphins.

According to a recent report by MPI, only spatial closures have been shown to increase the survival rate of Hector’s dolphins.

If there is no overlap with these fishing methods the likelihood of survival of these species that are unique to New Zealand would be greatly improved and it is predicted that without fishing mortality all populations of these dolphins would increase.

"Set netting is an environmentally destructive and wasteful fishing method that's killing endangered animals. Fishers in these areas should not being killing anything other than their target fish species, and that means ending this destructive fishing method, particularly as other methods of fishing are available that don’t kill dolphins.”

"Only 7.5% of set net effort in this region is under direct MPI observation. New Zealanders rely on fishers self-reporting by-kill, as occurred in this case, but there is strong evidence to suggest reporting doesn’t happen in many instances. MPI have reported  that an estimated 74-100% observer coverage would be required to provide credible data on how many dolphins are caught," says Mr Van Helden.