Conservation group's claims slammed

A campaign launched by a Northern Hemisphere conservation group targeting the New Zealand fishing industry is based on inaccurate allegations, Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says.

Nabu International is calling on fast food chain McDonald’s to drop New Zealand fish to “save Maui dolphins”.

“McDonald’s use New Zealand hoki. Maui dolphins are not found in the deepwater where hoki are caught, Mr Pankhurst says.

“Nabu claimed a Maui dolphin death through fishing was suppressed. This is false. We invite them to correct the record.

“Conservation measures for the prevention of Maui dolphin captures are working, with no sightings or captures of the dolphin in more than 1961 observer days since 2012.

“The effectiveness of these measures has been verified by independent government observers on board fishing vessels in the Maui dolphin's known habitat range.

“According to Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) data, the number of observed days were off the West Coast of the North Island in set net and trawl fisheries, including those outside the Maui dolphin target coverage area that have occurred.

“The New Zealand seafood industry fully supports a range of significant fishing restrictions that have been in place and working since 2012.

“These include prohibitions on the use of set nets and trawls up to seven nautical miles throughout almost all of Maui known habitat range, between Maunganui Bluff and Hawera.

“Almost 8300 square kilometres of the coastal environment, (link to Protection Area Map) including the Maui dolphin habitat, is closed to trawling and 15,000 square kilometres to set nets as a strong protective measure to prevent dolphin captures.

“Although the true population size of Maui remains open to conjecture, it is clearly very small and the New Zealand seafood industry fully supports their protection.

“With regard to Hector’s dolphins, a three-year study by the Cawthron Institute to update the South Island Hector’s dolphin population observed between 8000 and 9000 Hector’s dolphins off the east coast alone.

“The total Hector’s dolphin population in New Zealand is estimated to be between 12000 and 19000 according to MPI.

“Although the true population size of Maui remains open to conjecture, it is clearly very small. A recent Government estimate says there are approximately 55 Maui dolphins remaining. The New Zealand seafood industry fully supports their protection.

“These unsubstantiated claims put at risk our $1.7 billion export industry and the 26,000 jobs it provides for New Zealanders,” says Mr Pankhurst.