Operation Pahu is Sea Shepherd’s first campaign in New Zealand and makes a stand for NZ’s endemic dolphin in the South Island.
“Hector’s dolphin or Pahu have declined by over 80% in the last 50 years and many of the small sub populations are as isolated and vulnerable as the North Island Hector’s (Maui)” says Michael Lawry Sea Shepherd New Zealand Managing Director.
Operation Pahu is a long term determined effort to reduce the risk to Hector’s from illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) commercial and recreational fishing with the first phase focus on Te Waewae Bay up to the Canterbury Bight.
Campaign Leader, Grant Meikle (Ngai Tahu): “We’ll be on the lookout for any illegal recreational set nets or commercial (IUU) operations that continue to threaten these endangered dolphins”
Sea Shepherd will launch their fast vessel the ‘Loki’ from sites along the south-eastern coast of the South Island and use a number of unmarked vessels to survey Hector’s populations and human activity in their habitat.
Meikle says “The Loki was used to defend the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands and now it’s based in Otago and Southland defending the Pahu”
Last year the ground-breaking Simmons fisheries report included the leaked Government investigation “Operation Achilles”. This confirmed an alarming level of dolphin bycatch is still occurring.
Lawry says “Hector’s disappeared at such a rapid rate last century and with very little public knowledge, it was truly a silent slaughter in our inshore waters. There’s a greater public awareness now but still a problem that can’t be solved by petitions and submissions. The current Government’s connections to some big fishing companies are unhelpful”.
Sea Shepherd is also working with local Iwi and scientists to monitor and document populations to check recovery and assist with abundance estimates.
Conservation consultant, Gemma McGrath says, “It’s really exciting there is now a campaign that focuses on the often-overlooked subpopulations of Hector’s dolphins. They really need attention. Also, to be working with Māori hapu such as Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka Ki Puketeraki, and connecting coastal communities with their local dolphins is very special and important.”
Sea Shepherd is looking for public support to run the campaign and expand their fleet. NZ Dolphin lovers are encouraged to visit the campaign website: www.operationpahu.nz
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