A ‘March for Māui’ and Hector’s dolphins this Sunday from Silo Park, Auckland, will highlight government inaction and failure to protect endemic dolphins and other species from the indiscriminate and wasteful impacts of trawling.
Conservationists, recreational fishers and the general public around New Zealand have been dismayed and disappointed by the suggestion from the Minister of Fisheries, Stuart Nash, that he may cancel the electronic monitoring proposed on the New Zealand fishing fleet. The electronic camera coverage was to be implemented this year to improve transparency and accountability given unsustainable and under-reported by-catch, including dolphins, penguins, sea lions and pelagic sea birds, all facing extinction because they’re caught in nets and drown.
The ‘March for Māui’ is organised by Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders NZ Inc, though the Minister’s proposed course of action has been condemned by the NZ Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, WWF NZ, LegaSea, and others.
Rally organisers say ‘The government should be putting efforts into more protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins’. Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders chairwoman Christine Rose says ‘Our pre-election surveys of political parties showed Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First, in that order, had the best policies for protecting Māui and Hector’s. But so far, they have undermined the efforts made over the years to increase scrutiny of the fishing fleet and its destructive practices’. ‘This is a major disappointment for voters who supported the change of government, but worse of all it’s a direct threat to the viability of dolphin populations and other marine species’.
‘Not only is the government failing to act on its promises, but it’s undermining efforts to improve the sustainability of this country’s fishing practices implemented by the previous government’, says Mrs Rose.
‘Before the election, Stuart Nash was urging faster action and more accountability from the fishing industry. Now he’s supporting a real weakening of provisions required to keep the operators honest’. ‘In doing so, he puts into question the true cost of fishing’, ‘as well as throwing doubts on the integrity of the government’. ‘It’s known for example, that big fishing companies like Talley’s make electoral donations to various MPs, and that some Ministers have financial interests in the fishing industry’.
‘Governments, Ministers and government departments such as the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Ministry of Fisheries before it, have been prone to capture by fishing interests, and under this regime, we have more of the same, or even worse’ says Mrs Rose.
The Minister has been under pressure from the Seafood Industry to can the cameras, but there are suggestions even deeper conflicts of interest are at play, says Mrs Rose.
‘There were problems with the proposed camera programme, including that the camera footage was to be reviewed by fishing interests. But Minister Nash’s proposal to cancel the cameras altogether is negligent and dangerous’. ‘We need an improved surveillance and monitoring system, not a lack of openness altogether’.
The ‘March for Māui’ starts at 1pm on Sunday 18 March from Silo Park and will proceed to an area near where Sanfords fishing vessels dock, near the Marine Events Centre at Wynyard Quarter.
The march will be accompanied by a large billboard on the Northern Motorway condemning the government’s inaction and failure to roll out the cameras and to protect Māui and Hector’s dolphins and other sea life.
WHAT: March for Māui’ and Hector’s dolphins
WHEN: Sunday 18th March
WHERE: Silo Park, Auckland