Base Decision on Science - NZ Seafood Industry Council

October 11, 2010 16:35

New bans being considered to close thousands of square kilometers of sea to set-net fishing would wreck Kiwi businesses for no good reason and would be unlikely to save a single dolphin, says New Zealand Seafood Industry Council chief executive Peter Bodeker, reports with reference to Seafood Industry Council.

Public submissions on a Ministerial review of set-net limits close tomorrow. Under consideration is an extension of a set net ban on the west coast of the North Island from four to seven nautical miles from shore. An area at the top of the South Island is also being considered for a set-net closure.

The bans would ostensibly be to protect the rare Hector's and Maui's dolphin populations, but Mr Bodeker says there is no evidence they are at risk from commercial fishermen.

"Like all New Zealanders, we value native marine mammals, especially those as rare as Hector's and Maui's dolphins. If the ban under consideration protected these dolphins we would support it, but the data says it will make no difference to the dolphins."

In 2003 the set-netters affected by the impending decision were forced to fish outside four nautical miles.

"Not a single dolphin has been caught since the 2003 restrictions were applied. Extending this ban would not provide any greater protection for the dolphins than already exists, but it would damage the livelihoods of hard working New Zealanders," Mr Bodeker said.  "None are being caught now, you can't catch fewer than that."

He said he hoped the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would be guided by the scientific evidence when making his decision.

"This is too important to get wrong. It needs to be based on the best available information in the form of a risk assessment. Vague, emotive and subjective assessments are not appropriate when people's livelihoods are on the line."

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