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Wednesday, February 1

Government must act to protect Maui's dolphin

The Green Party is calling for a moratorium on set-net fishing off the coast of Taranaki following the death of a highly endangered Maui's dolphin that got trapped in a net.

"We need to take all steps necessary to protect and save this critically endangered dolphin," said Green Party ocean's spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
"This death occurred in an area not protected by a set-net ban. If the Government is serious about protecting the Maui's dolphin, then the current restrictions need to be reviewed.

"The Primary Productions Minister should look at extending set-net bans and putting in place a moratorium on all set-nets until that is done.

"Set-netting was only allowed in this area because officials thought Maui's dolphins didn't travel there. However, this Maui's dolphin death proves this assumption wrong."

Maui's dolphin is New Zealand's rarest dolphin and is listed internationally as critically endangered. It is estimated there are only 111 individuals left, which means there is a high risk of it becoming extinct in the near future.

"The Government needs to take action to protect our precious species, not oversee their extinction," said Mr Hughes.

"Incidents like these, along with risky seal lion by-catch rule changes, put our highly endangered indigenous species at risk.

"These incidents are also a threat to our valuable, clean, green, sustainable fisheries brand.

"Customers will sidestep our fish if it becomes known that highly endangered species are part of their by-catch."