Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Industry not promising to stop dolphins from dying

South Australian Fisheries Minister Rory McEwen says dolphin deaths may still occur, despite the implementation of a new code of practice for the state's pilchard industry.

The new code will be tested this week and licence holders may be able to start fishing as soon as next week.

The Government closed the $28 million fishery in response to reports that 19 dolphins had been killed in pilchard nets.

Mr McEwen says the code aims to minimise dolphin interactions and to change practices when contact does occur. However, he says there are no guarantees.

"There are some circumstances where even the behaviour of the dolphins themselves is not totally manageable, so there will even in the future be some unfortunate interactions that could cause death, but obviously it is our role to absolutely minimise that, but we could never say never," he said.

Mr McEwen says two boats will go to sea with independent observers on board to ensure the new code works to minimise dolphin deaths.

"As soon as I can have it independently verified that the code is now 'implementable' as it were, then everybody can go back fishing, the whole 14 licence holders can go back to sea, but I must be convinced first that the new code of practice achieves the objective of minimising any level of interaction with dolphins," he said.


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