Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry have welcomed initiatives by the seafood industry to further protect Māui dolphins.
“There are already extensive fishing protections over a large part of the Māui dolphin distribution, and these new steps will provide even greater reassurance and protection,” says Mr Guy.
The proposed changes by Moana New Zealand and Sanford cover the area from Maunganui Bluff in the North to the Whanganui River Mouth. They include:No set nets in the area north of New Plymouth From October 2017 fishers will install full electronic monitoring (cameras and tracking) Transition away from conventional trawl fishing methods
“We have been discussing these options with industry for the last 18 months so it’s pleasing to see them taking a proactive, precautionary stance and committing to working with the Government,” says Mr Guy.
“Over the next few years we’re also rolling out the Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IERMS), which includes cameras, geospatial monitoring and electronic reporting on every commercial fishing vessel. The move by these fishing companies to adopt this technology early is a big vote of confidence,” says Mr Guy.
“We are pleased that a number of the measures reflect proposals in the Future of our Fisheries programme that is currently being consulted on – including the electronic monitoring and use of innovative trawl technologies.”
“This is a welcome and important step to further protect the Māui dolphin,” says Ms Barry.
“While the recently completed scientific survey carried out over the last two years showed encouraging signs the population has stabilised, with an estimate of 63 adults, there is no dispute the Māui dolphin is critically endangered and the Government remains committed to ensuring its long-term survival.
“DOC and MPI’s marine experts will analyse the details of the proposal and have further discussions with Sanford, Moana and WWF-NZ ahead of the commitment’s start date in October next year.”
More than 1,700 square kilometres off the west coast of the North Island have been closed to trawl net fishing since 2003, and over 6,200 square kilometres closed to set netting.
Since July 2012 there has been mandatory observer coverage on all commercial set net vessels operating offshore out to seven nautical miles in the Taranaki region. Since March 2014, there has also been increasing observer coverage on the trawl fleet north of Taranaki.
DOC and MPI are investing over $2 million in research to ensure the best science-based decisions are made for future protection of Māui dolphins.