Fisheries Minister calls for set net ban extension

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage have proposed new measures to avoid future by-catch of nationally endangered marine species, following the accidental by-catch and death of five Hector’s dolphins in a fishing net off Banks Peninsula.

Mr Nash and Ms Sage have identified a number of areas where more work needs to be done, and have sought advice on whether changes can be made to some fishing practices in the short-term.

The range of options includes:

  • Prioritising the development of a new Threat Management Plan for Māui’s and Hector’s dolphins
  • Reviewing the use of set nets in a bid to reduce or phase out their use
  • Considering extending the ban on set nets in the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary further offshore
  • Encouraging voluntary closures of certain fisheries to set nets such as those recently put in place by commercial set netters to protect the hoihō/yellow eyed penguin off Southland.
  • The role of observers and camera coverage on fishing boats

“New Zealand could follow the example of American states such as California and North Carolina which have banned commercial set nets to protect endangered seabirds, marine mammals and turtles. South Australia has done the same to protect the Australasian sea lion, as has Finland for the Saimaa ringed seal,” Ms Sage said.

Mr Nash and Ms Sage are overseeing a review of the Threat Management Plan (TMP) for Hector’s and Māui dolphins, which has been in place since 2008. The review will consider longer-term measures to better protect the dolphins from the risks of set netting and deaths caused by other human activity.

Image Credit: Green Party of Aotearoa