19 March 2008
Minister has got it wrong on Dolphin deaths: Green Party
The scientist who provoked the Conservation Minister into releasing photos of 22 bloody and battered dolphin carcasses
on the deck of a fishing boat through an official information request says that the Common Dolphin species urgently
needs to be reclassified as 'data deficient'.
Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says "Currently Common Dolphins are classified as 'not threatened'.
By incorrectly classifying these dolphins, the Government is not even approaching a point where adequate protections can
be put in place."
Massey University marine biologist Karen Stockin says "It would be more honest to admit that we know next to nothing
about this species, rather than apparently classifying them on the basis of their name."
Ms Stockin says that "Previous studies which extrapolate from observed figures show that up to 300 Common Dolphins may
be killed annually in this one particular fishery alone."
Mrs Turei agrees that "There is simply not enough data available on these beautiful creatures to make any assumptions
about their numbers, and with the fishing industry clearly capable of scooping up 20 in one trip, we may never get the
"You don't have to be a biologist to know that a death rate of up to 300 - in a manner that is entirely avoidable and
highly traumatic - is not sustainable for this long lived and slow breeding species.
"The Conservation Minister has got it wrong when she says that the deaths of 20 so-called Common Dolphins as 'by catch'
is a one-off incident.
"This is not the first time such a horrific event has occurred, contrary to the Ministers' statement yesterday that this
was an 'unprecedented' incident. A similar massacre occurred in the summer of 2002, where a single fishing boat
slaughtered 20 dolphins in one trip.
"The Seafood Industry Council's comments yesterday that 'Fishermen feel gutted about this sort of thing' is clearly just
PR spin given that similar massacres have been documented several times. I doubt that the fishermen involved felt as
gutted as the dying dolphins, and clearly they didn't feel gutted enough to fish elsewhere when they knew that dolphins
were in the area.
"The Ministers of Conservation and Fisheries must recognise the extent of the problem and act immediately to protect
these animals, instead of offering paltry threats of action at some undefined point in the distant future."