Responding to today’s criticism regarding the implications for dolphins of delaying implementation of electronic monitoring on fishing vessels by former Conservation Minister Maggie Barry, environmental organisation WWF-New Zealand called it ‘playing politics’.
Peter Hardstaff, Head of Campaigns for WWF-New Zealand said: “While WWF welcomes Maggie Barry’s new-found concern over the on-going threat faced by Māui dolphins, the criticism levelled at the new government smacks of playing politics. When in power, Maggie Barry and her government repeatedly refused to extend protection for Māui dolphins claiming enough had already been done.”
Less than 30% of Māui dolphin habitat is currently protected from set netting, and less than 8% is currently protected from both set netting and conventional trawling.
In a press release issued today, National Party Conservation Spokesperson and former Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry MP, criticised the Green Party for supporting a decision to delay the implementation of electronic monitoring. Maggie Barry claims in the release that, “delaying electronic surveillance…will inevitably result in more dolphin and sea lion deaths.”
In response, Peter Hardstaff said: “The former Minister seems to misunderstand what cameras can do. WWF strongly advocates for electronic monitoring on fishing vessels which could enable improved information gathering on by-catch of endangered species like dolphins and sea lions. However, putting cameras on boats does not prevent dolphins and sea lions from being accidentally caught and killed.”
“WWF calls on all political parties to support creating a lasting solution for Māui dolphins. This means removing the fishing threat from their entire range and helping fishing communities transition to fishing methods that are safe for dolphins.”
Commenting on the delay to the roll-out of electronic monitoring on fishing vessels, Peter Hardstaff said: “Electronic monitoring has great potential to improve transparency and data collection in the fishing industry and on some issues, such as dumping, it has the potential to drive behaviour change. WWF-New Zealand made it clear to the last government, and has made it clear to the new government, that it is vital to get the electronic monitoring system right. It is better to ensure the system is going to work rather than rush implementation and then spend years trying to fix problems. We had real concerns that electronic monitoring was being rushed in a way that could compromise its efficacy.”