Hector’s dolphin death highlights need for tougher stance on set nets

The Green Party is calling for a total ban on recreational set nets in the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary to stop more Hector’s dolphins from being caught in them and drowning.

Scientists have today confirmed the death of a Hector’s dolphin found in Akaroa Harbour was caused by a set net.

Current legislation allows set nets to be used in some inner bays of Akaroa Harbour from 1 April to 30 September to catch flat-fish. Set nets create a wall from the sea surface to the sea bed, catching everything that tries to pass through. Dolphins can become caught in them and drown.

“If we are to properly protect Hector’s dolphins, we should ensure all of the harbour and Banks Peninsula coast is set net-free. It’s been only a week since set net fishing was allowed for the year, and already one Hector’s dolphin has been killed,” Green Party conservation spokersperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Hector’s dolphins live close to the coast making them highly vulnerable to being caught in set nets. Making all waters less than 100 metres deep throughout the Hector’s dolphin range set net-free and ensuring these laws are enforced would be a major step to preventing dolphin deaths.

“Hector’s dolphin is classified as a nationally endangered species. The most recent published estimate of the Hector’s dolphin population is 7,270.

“It’s not appropriate to allow set nets in areas that a nationally endangered species is known to use when we know that set nets are an indiscriminate fishing method, and cause dolphin deaths.

“We need to protect the Hector’s dolphin, not continue to allow avoidable deaths of an endangered animal,” Ms Sage said.



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