Rare dolphins threatened by trawlers
31st January 2002
Wellington WWF New Zealand is to lay a complaint with the Ministries of Fisheries and Conservation after fishing boats were sighted trawling in an area inhabited by the endangered North Island Hector's dolphin.
The boats were seen pair trawling off Sunset Beach, Port Waikato, within an area proposed for set netting ban to protect the North Island Hector's dolphin.
Estimates put the population of the dolphins, the world's smallest marine mammal, at 100. They are genetically distinct and do not interbreed with the South Island Hector's dolphin.
WWF director of conservation Chris Howe said today pair trawling where two boats suspend one net between them was extremely dangerous for dolphins as they became confused by the sound of the two boats and were unable to swim away.
``Fishers in the area have repeatedly assured us and the Ministry of Fisheries that they do not pair trawl in the range of the North Island Hector's dolphin, this is patently untrue.
``WWF believes that any kind of trawling with the dolphin's range should be banned. We must act as decisively as possible to save them from extinction.''
The sighting of the boats came as autopsies this week on seven dolphins found dead recently in Admiralty Bay in the Marlborough Sounds found signs that two of the animals had been caught in fishermen's set nets.