Fishing Forum

This was a setnet used in the normal way. It was anchored close to shore near some mussel beds. When DOC caught up with the owners they were just about to put out a brand new net. At Neil\'s Beach, which is in Jackson Bay (West Coast, South Island) in November 2005.

Want some controversy?

Look no further….Here’s where we get down to business and expose what really goes on out at sea within our fishing industry.

There’s a lot of different opinions out there, media spins and cover-ups.  We have the dolphin’s best interest at heart. So for them, we tell it like it is.

Maui and Hector dolphins are endemic to New Zealand, as native as our flightless birds and they are becoming increasingly endangered, easily drowning in set nets. This method of fishing catches more than just the target species. Seals, penguins, sea lions, birds, whales, dolphins, basking sharks and many more of our ocean taonga are dying. Already banned in most developed countries, these nets has been drowning our dolphins for nearly 40 years. True numbers of dolphin deaths have been downplayed for decades. Sensitive bycatch is usually chopped up and destroyed in order to enable the fishing industry to continue without change. The situation is finally improving with more independent observers on different types of fishing vessels. Interesting how much bycatch data is coming to light, compared to previous voluntary reports. This is a place where we can get it all out in the open and discuss ways we can help our marine environment to be truly pumping and full of life.Unfortunately the effect of trawling and set net fishing on dolphins has been misreported and underestimated for too long. There are now serious concerns for the common dolphin population around New Zealand, due to the large ammounts  drowning in nets, (see article below). An urgent population survey is needed to asses their conservation status. Our concern is that they may be as endangered as the Hector’s dolphins, and not so common at all.

The people of this land used to learn ways to improve our ecosystems, instead of simply taking from and depleting them. How do we find the natural balance again? 

In order to flow towards more positive change we need to know the nitty gritty about what really goes on out at sea……Speak your peace


5:00AM Thursday March 20, 2008
By Mike Houlahan

Trawl nets killed 22 common dolphins along the west coast of the North Island last December.

Trawl nets killed 22 common dolphins along the west coast of the North Island last December.

The common dolphin is in danger of falling victim to its name and could already be an endangered species, a marine biologist believes.

The Government has released pictures of 22 dolphins killed accidentally in December by fishing trawlers, and urged fishing companies to try and minimise the number of mammals they catch.

However, Massey University marine biologist Karen Stockin said as many as 300 common dolphins could be falling victim to human activities every year.

“With a name like common we assume them to be common … but this is one of the few native marine mammal species we have that there is no population estimate for,” Ms Stockin said.

“At the moment they are classified as being not threatened, but when you go through the literature and you go back to the people that designate that status, they have admitted that on no grounds do they have any data to give them that status.”

Common dolphins suffered losses from pollution, inland and offshore fishing and tourism activities, Ms Stockin said.They should be reclassified as “data-deficient”, and a population survey should be carried out, she said.

“Quite frankly, we don’t have any evidence to suggest that they are not threatened in these waters.

“In fact, all the impacts we are currently having on them makes me think the other way – that we are having quite a big impact on this population.”

Fishing industry groups agreed that the number of common dolphins was unknown, but said they were still plentiful. Seafood Industry Council chief executive Owen Symmans said common dolphins could form schools several thousand strong, and the average number caught was low.

The numbers of dolphins killed by fishing trawlers each year varies, with some years seeing almost no deaths and some seeing as many as 20.

The 22 dolphins killed in December fell victim to four trawlers fishing for jack mackerel off the west coast of the North Island.

The Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries were investigating how the catch happened and how to prevent other fishing-related deaths.

Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement said trawlers catching dolphins was a rare and regrettable occurrence.

“We are in the same space, and it’s just very, very unfortunate. We do absolutely everything we can to minimise it, and when you do get a capture like this is regrettable, but it is part and parcel of the business.”

Mr Clement said the common dolphin was the most prolific species in New Zealand waters and the most likely to fall foul of human activity.

“Regrettably it has occurred, and regrettably the interactions will continue because we share the same planet.”

Green MP Metiria Turei said the death of so many dolphins in one incident was not a one-off, and that 20 of the mammals were killed by a single fishing vessel in 2002.

“The Ministers of Conservation and Fisheries must recognise the extent of the problem and act immediately to protect these animals, instead of offering paltry threats of action at some undefined period in the distant future.”


One Response to Fishing Forum

  1. 100mauis says:

    What are other bloggers saying?

    Is it worth saving endangered dolphins at the expense of jobs?

    Here is what NZ Herald bloggers have had to say on the new fishing industry changes so far….

    Kirstie Knowles (Wellington City)

    With respect to driftnetting, it is Damian who is out of touch rather than Forest & Bird. The MFish study of the possible economic and social impacts of the dolphin proposals identified 4 commercial drift netters legally operating along the north west coast of the North Island. The international community banned ‘wall of death’ drift nets on the high seas, but this didn’t translate into domestic legislation.
    As Jim Anderton commented yesterday, when fishing boats don’t have observers they never seem to catch any marine mammals, or seabirds. By some unexplained process when the boats have an observer on board, they suddenly start catching protected species.

    While it is true that there has not been any reported maui dolphin deaths caused by trawling, this is not the case for the related Hectors dolphin in the South Island. For example only two years ago 3 were killed by a trawler near the Wairau Bar in Marlborough. In December last year trawlers operating not far from Maui’s dolphin habitat in Taranaki killed 20 common dolphins.

    The Maui’s population is so small that it can not tolerate 1 fishing related death in 5 years. I think the Minister made the right decison.

    Angryman (auckland) Very poor decision. I’m sure the greenies are singing kumbai jah and have cracked open the herbal tea and lentil sandwiches already but for many this is a bad decision that will cost people and communities their only means of income.This will have far reaching effects on many humans.
    The area is to large and covers areas where the dolphin don’t habitate and have never habitated.
    All this will do will hit fishing communities in the pocket all in the effort to same some dolphins that no one ever sees or to be honest don’t really care about.

    STUPENDOUS (Hibiscus Coast) Long overdue. Well done Jim Anderton. Kiwisave was just the beginning. You will go down in history as helping NZ to become a great country. The knockers will realise this one day.

    matrix (Howick) It depends on how many jobs and how many dolphins. If our fisherman are taking precautions (is there some international best practice) and only killing a few they should be allowed to continue. The tourism argument is interesting. If you add up all the dollars tourists to NZ spend and then subtract all the dollars NZers spend abroad do we end up in the black or red! Kiri- I wish we could keep the country clean without conservation workers. We do not want to create those types of jobs at the expense of fishermen who contribute to the GDP.

    Ted Filter (Auckland)

    I’m getting tired of hearing various groups of people wittering on about their divine right to pillage the sea. When their use of this resource is no longer sustainable, or the casualties are not acceptable, they hide behind their families and children as an excuse to continue.
    There are other jobs available besides fishing. Times, and resources, are changing, and people in many lines of work have found that their trade is no longer a viable means of income. Adapt or die. Crying is not an option.

    Anne (Glen Eden)

    Yes, if necessary. We are here to be stewards of the planet, not to destroy it. Whether or not it is a ‘realistic’ attitude, the truth is that the human species is taking far more than it needs in order that a few people can pursue profit. Like it or not, this attitude is taking us to self-annihilation and we need to start learning to moderate our desires in order to preserve our lives and planet.
    I’m not clear why these jobs will be lost anyway?

    Bottom line, as well, regulations are only necessary because those in the fishing industry, over the years, haven’t had the slightest care about what they kill as long as they get their ‘catch’ and their $. If they had ‘cared’, none of this would be necessary.

    We all need to care. It would be one thing if people were starving from not being able to kill their food, but this is a far cry from that.

    Realist (Auckland) Yeah its a good idea. I am sorry for the fishermen – but there you go. I think Option 4 had it right anyway. Less commercial fishing and more for recreational fishermen.

    Dan (Wellington City) No. Sorry, not the trendiest answer.

    Richard (Timaru) Jobs can be replaced, endangered species can’t. Simply as that.

    Mark (Waitakere) Definitely worth saving Maui’s and Hector’s. Too bad the Fishing Industry are still fishing for more taxpayer hand-outs to get those involved in failing fisheries paid to get out of the industry. Certainly the Port Waikato drift-netters don’t deserve a cent.
    When the fishers readjust to using sustainable methods, they will do well with the closed area providing more fish than a Minisry of Fisheries fished-down area. The fishers around any marine reserve will attest to that.

    Andrew E (Kapiti Coast) The job loses are unfortunate, but they happen. What gets me that if a company wants to save money (read increase its profits) it can close a factory, putting hunderds of people out of work, society collective shrugs and accepts it as part of business. However, when the government makes a move to save a species at the cost of jobs we seem to have a split decision.
    If we think of this as New Zealand Inc. closing a factory to save a species then maybe we can get society to shrug and accept this as just what has to be done.

    Andre Dromgool (Ponsonby) I think that this is the only thing that New Zealand can do to save the dolphins. At least we can say that we tried as hard as possible to do so. Why should we leave their fate in the hands of the fishing industry when it is full of “companies (that) will go to any length to land their fish.”

    diane browne (Auckland) Absolutely, with climate change, overfishing and bottom trawling taking place a lot of species of marine life will become extinct and by tackling the problem now we can ensure our children and future generations will be able to enjoy the sight of dolphins and not read about how they became extinct. Well done New Zealand !

    Kiri (Auckland)

    Time and again, experience has shown that conservation can create jobs, and boost tourism.
    But anyway, we should not see things only from the point of veiw of a group of humans. We are the custodians of the natural world. The web of nature, which is our natural heritage, is our greatest heritage, and it is a pity that things often go so far awry before we can act responsibly. Yes, extinction is natural, but extinction caused by human activity (and those causing the destruction always seem to want to deny any responsibility) is a shame.

    damian (Glen Eden)

    Sure it is if these closures were to make any difference, I mean come on driftnetting?! It’s been banned for years and was never a method used in New Zealand waters. This is just another example of how out of touch the minister is and how groups like Forest and Bird prey on the general public’s ignorance of what truly goes on out there. There has never been a death of a maui dolphin caused by a trawler but it suits them to have a total ban on all fishing methods in these areas especially west coast of the North Island as it takes them 1 step closer to their ultimate goal of total exclusion/no take marine reserves.
    I hope the minister in all his wisdom has made allowances for the fact that 2000 tonnes of fish caught in the west coast closed area will now be caught in areas immediately adjacent to it. My prediction is these areas such as 90 mile beach now have about 2 years before they are irrepariably depleted due to increased pressure as he has made no mention of adjusting catch limits to balance the closures and companies will go to any length to land their fish.

    Maybe the government can employ out of work fishermen to go out and kill all the sharks and the orca that feed on maui dolphins?

    Geo (Ellerslie)

    The hectors and mauis dolphin are as precious to us as the kiwi and tuatara. To continue allowing them to die in nets is so sad. We can’t just sit back and watch as they become extinct. They are the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin.

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