The fishing industry in New Zealand reacted to the environmentalist protest outside New Zealand House in London earlier this week.
A small crowd had gathered for a makeshift vigil addressing the plight of the Maui’s dolphin while handing over 150,000 signatures in hope for the government to react to the growing threat of extinction. The event organisers included the London branch of Green Party New Zealand and the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU).
Seafood New Zealand, a group that is dedicated to representing the interests of the New Zealand fishing industry, contacted the New Zealand Times , stating that their own research showed that there had been no mortalities of Maui’s dolphins attributed to fishing since 2003.
“Like all New Zealanders we care about preserving Maui dolphins. We also care about rational argument and scientific evidence,” the memo reads.
“Since 2003, the government have banned trawl and set net fishing in 6,000 square kilometres of Maui dolphin’s potential habitat. Intensive searches done by government observers, who have been on board vessels for more than 900 days, have failed to find any Maui dolphins in this area since the ban.”
But according to NABU, the Maui’s dolphin could be extinct in as little as ten years’ time. They also report that numbers of the small mammal have been declining dramatically, saying that the dolphin would have to reproduce at more than 50 times its current rate to eve begin to maintain its numbers. However, there seems to be no clear and obvious link between fishing practices in New Zealand waters and the rate of decline.
Seafood New Zealand says that the plight of the Maui’s dolphin should rather be attributed to other causes:
“It needs to be recognised that there are other issues placing Maui dolphins at risk, such as the disease toxoplasmosis. The most recent dolphin autopsies have shown this land originating disease is threatening the species.”
But both nature conservationists and the fishing industry seem to agree on one thing: the fact that the government is not sufficiently addressing issues relating to the survival of the Maui’s dolphin. In another press release, Seafood New Zealand says that government is not doing enough to save them.