Exclusion of Taranaki Fishermen from Inshore Fishery

Our Request: An opportunity for the local fishermen to put their case

The proposed imposition of a set net exclusion zone around the coast of Taranaki is likely to spell the end of Port Taranaki as a fishing port and the loss of livelihood for many local fishers.

The objective is to save Mauis Dolphins, but in so doing it is the local fishermen who will become the victims.

Perhaps we could better accept this measure if we thought it would work, but it wont. There have been no sightings of Mauis Dolphins in the proposed exclusion area for 25 years. Keeping us out will kill the industry yet it will not save the dolphins.

Below is a copy of a letter to the people of Taranaki and New Zealand that was published in the Taranaki Daily News on Saturday 14 April for your information.

We local fishermen are proposing an alternative strategy that could save both our industry and the Mauis Dolphins. We believe that working together in a collaborative approach will yield much better results than what is being proposed. We have specific proposals to bring to the table.

We would like an opportunity to put our alternative approach to the public and explain why it would be better for everyone, including the dolphins.

Media Advisory by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council.

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Open Letter to the People of Taranaki and New Zealand

14 April 2012

The livelihood of several Taranaki fishermen, their crew and families will disappear overnight with the introduction of a set netting exclusion zone around most of the Taranaki Coast.

The result will be significantly reduced fish volumes into the Port of Taranaki leading to the likely closure of onshore processing and the likely loss of the Port as a fishing port.

The cost would be the loss of 40-50 jobs and $15 million of annual economic activity.

This additional exclusion zone, in addition to that already in place from the White Cliffs north to the Manganui Bluffs (Dargaville), is designed to protect the endangered Mauis Dolphin population despite the fact that there have been no sightings of this species in the proposed new exclusion zone for 25 years. It is supposed that the accidental capture in January, extensively reported, was a Mauis but is more likely to have been one of the much more plentiful Hectors Dolphins.

This extension of the set net prohibition zone is the only remedy so far proposed, even though sharks, orcas and disease take a huge toll on the species.

We predict a dual extinction the Mauis and the local fishing industry. In effect, no one wins.

We are aware of our responsibilities and we are working to constantly improve our practice as instanced by the 25 year clean record with dolphins.

To make clear our intent and genuinely try to save this endangered species we are proposing a collaborative approach, as an alternative to the exclusion zone, is mounted involving Central and Local Government, Iwi, advocacy groups, other stakeholders and the industry.

To the table we would bring, for starters:

active support including a programme for reporting sightings

assistance with DNA testing and tagging of animals

support for Government observers on boats, of acoustic pingers on nets to warn dolphins

voluntary limits on fishing where there have been dolphin sightings.

Such a collaborative approach requires an open mind by all parties, including ourselves. It will be more flexible and therefore more effective.

It is much more likely to save the Mauis without killing the industry.

Regards,

Ian McDougall, Keith Mawson, Peter Bennett, Robert and John Ansley, Chris Powell, Mike MacGregor, Lyle Jenkins and all our families, staff and our fishing crews.