Industry decision good news for Maui dolphins, government should follow

Forest & Bird welcomes the announcement from Moana New Zealand and Sanford that they will remove set net and other fishing threats from the west coast of the North Island in an effort to protect the Maui’s dolphin, and is calling on the government and the rest of the fishing industry to take similar steps.

The Maui Dolphin Protection Plan, released today, is an important unilateral initiative from two significant commercial fisheries players.

“These two companies are acknowledging that the main threat to the future of these dolphins comes from fishing, and - in the absence of leadership from the government - they are taking action to remove those threats,” says Katrina Goddard, Forest & Bird’s marine advocate.

The Maui’s dolphin is critically endangered, and their numbers and range have undergone a massive reduction since the introduction of mono-filament set nets in the 1970s. A recent estimate of their population indicated that only 63 individuals over one year of age remain.

As well as the plan to remove set nets from Maui’s dolphin habitat north of New Plymouth by October 2017, Forest & Bird is pleased with the commitment to install monitoring systems on harbour set net vessels, to deliver video monitoring of both coastal set net and trawl fishing by April 2017, and to transition all vessels away from conventional trawl fishing techniques by 2022.

Forest & Bird agrees with the companies’ assertion that “this is a conservation emergency requiring concerted and collaborative action.”

“The government and the other fishing industry players now need to pick up on this important initiative and take similar steps to protect Maui’s dolphins,” says Ms Goddard.