Seafood industry says endangered Maui's don't inhabit fishing-ban coastline

The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council says the governments decision to impose a temporary two nautical miles set net ban around the Taranaki coast as far south as Hawera will not save a single Mauis dolphin since they dont inhabit that part of the coastline.

The Chief Executive Peter Bodeker said scientific surveys of Mauis dolphins over the past decade had shown Mauis dolphins do not live in the area being closed. The latest Department of Conservation and Auckland University surveys of the distribution and genetics of Mauis dolphin didnt find a Mauis south of Raglan Harbour in Waikato. DOC has undertaken a number of boat surveys in the past two years to find Mauis dolphins in the area south of the existing closure and found none.

"The only small dolphins identified from Taranaki have been the related Hectors. They are very occasional strays from the South Island which is their core habitat. To impose such a wide-scale ban on fishing off Taranaki, even if temporary, is utterly futile in protecting the Mauis.

"The interim measure is effectively shutting the stable door but when the horse was never in the stable," he says.

"The seafood industry is concerned that the Mauis population is low and threatened and it would support constructive action."

He points out that DoC has identified a number of threats to Mauis, including Auckland/Waikato land based contamination, such as oil spills and high organophosphate levels in the dolphins, as well as livestock disease, such as brucella infection which causes abortions.

"We believe something more positive needs to be done to save the Mauis, based on advances in technology and looking at some of the innovative ways New Zealand has worked to save other endangered species."

Mr Bodeker said the industry had also repeatedly offered its resources to assist with the protection of the Mauis dolphins, including calls for collaborative management of the Mauis zone, including local industry, government agencies, iwi, local advocates for the dolphins and other stakeholders.

"Even if the government says this is a temporary move, it seems that decisions are being driven by emotion not objective evidence," says Mr Bodeker.

"The next few months will be critical in ensuring that solid, science-based information is gathered so that informed decisions can be made for the right reasons, not the most popular ones, especially when peoples businesses and livelihoods are at risk. To that effect we support the governments move to put observers on the fishing boats in the region."

For further information contact: Don Carson, Senior Communications Advisor, ph 04 802 1518 or 027 293 2321

See link below: Department of Conservation 2012, Estimating the abundance and effective population size of Mauis dolphins using microsatellite genotypes in 2010-11, with retrospective matching to 2011-07 http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/conservation/native-animals/marine-mammals/mauis-dolphin-abundance-estimate-report.pdf