The New Zealand Government has announced the Maui and Hector’s (Pahu) Threat Management Plan will now be delayed by months. Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd NZ is alarmed to see a sharp rise in commercial fishing activity in their habitat.
“Increased protection for Maui was due to be announced last month and all we are seeing is unprecedented levels of industrial scale trawling in their habitat. The industry appears to be engaged in a last-ditch fishing bonanza before the law changes” says Michael Lawry (Sea Shepherd NZ).
New Zealand’s largest trawlers, some over 100 metres in length have been working off the west coast of the North Island in Maui habitat less than 100 metres in depth (see Figure 1).
Smaller trawlers from one of the big three fishing companies have been observed working in areas less than 50 metres in depth and only 5km offshore (see Figure2).
Option 4 in the Government’s Threat Management Plan calls for protection of Maui to the 100 metre depth contour from Maunganui Bluff to New Plymouth. If implemented, these trawling activities would no longer be legal.
“We’ve had Government, big fishing companies and some NGO’s working with them cynically stating how much they care about Maui and offering fantasy high tech solutions but in reality what we are seeing is increased commercial fishing, increased risk and potentially more dolphin deaths.” states Lawry.
If the Government and the New Zealand Fishing Industry were concerned about their international reputation, they no longer appear to be.