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Commercial Fishing



Three more rare dolphins accidently caught off NZ. The three Hector’s dolphins have been captured in a commercial trawl net off Banks Peninsula this week, bringing to seven the number of Hector’s caught in trawl nets since December 2018.

‘This number of captures in such a short time is unusual and we need to get to the bottom of why it is happening,’ Fisheries New Zealand Inshore Fisheries Manager Steve Halley says.

‘Hector’s dolphins are nationally endangered taonga and any capture is very disappointing. We’re working alongside DOC to update a plan to manage the threats to Hector’s dolphins from a range of causes, including fishing. These latest captures will be factored into the review of the plan alongside all of our scientific analysis.

‘In the meantime, we are talking with fishing companies which operate in the area to better understand how this happened.

‘Timely information is key to our ability to protect these dolphins, so it was good that the vessel reported the captures immediately.’

The Hector’s dolphin Threat Management Plan involves a programme of work that includes research, information gathering and initiatives to mitigate and avoid interactions between fishing and dolphins. Following its review, it will be put out for public consultation.

The Department of Conservation, (DOC) will include information about these captures in its Hector’s and Māui Dolphin Incident Database, which records date, location and cause of mortalities, where known. Incidents are published on DOC’s website quarterly.

The latest estimate of South Island Hector’s dolphins carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries is around 15,000 individuals and almost twice the previous, published estimate. Problems with the survey methods and data analysis, identified in peer review, are to be discussed when the Hector’s dolphin Threat Management Plan is reviewed in 2018. Until that review, it is reasonable to conclude that the current population is on the order of 10,000 Hector’s dolphins. The current population is below 30% of the population estimated in 1970 which was about 50,000. . Additional population surveys have been carried out off the east coast in 2012 and 2013. The results of these surveys have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.