Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fishery to re-open soon after the dolphins deaths issue!

In South Australia, Port Lincoln's pilchard fishery could re-open within a week, despite reports of dolphin deaths.
The State Government closed the fishery on Thursday, after an independent survey found 19 dolphins had died in fishing nets over five months.
Agriculture Minister Rory Mcewan says the fishery could re-open soon for some operators to trial nets with special gates, to allow dolphins to be released.
But he says if they do not work, fishers will have to be prepared to release their entire catch.
"If you can't do it any other way you'll have to actually release the fish," he said.
"So the industry does accept it needs to modify its practices. We'll trial a number of them.
"Certainly we're not sure yet exactly what gear will work the best so we'll trial them and get back to the industry."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Nets can be dolphins' cemetery...drowning them!

This is the sad scene of what must have looked like the death of dolphins caught in nets. Posted by Picasa

Dolphins deaths close fishery!

THE deaths of at least 19 dolphins in fishing nets has forced a shutdown of the state's $28 million-a-year pilchard industry.Fishing by 14 Port Lincoln licensees will cease until an industry code of conduct acceptable to the State Government is drawn up.

A summit of industry and Government leaders will be held in Port Lincoln on Monday in a bid to have the fleet back in action as soon as possible, but the Government already has foreshadowed a ban on pilchard fishing around Ward Island, south of Port Lincoln.

The dolphins have died after being trapped in the huge nets used to scoop up schools of pilchards, which provide feed for West Coast tuna farms.

As Fisheries Minister Rory McEwen took the drastic action to shut down the industry yesterday, Government sources admitted the exact number of dolphins killed would never be known.

"These are just the ones we know about," a source said. Mr McEwen and Premier Mike Rann said the action was drastic, but necessary.

"Once the code is completed and the fishery re-opens, each pilchard boat will need to ensure an independent observer is on board to monitor dolphin activity," Mr McEwen said.

He said interim results from an observer program conducted by the South Australian Research and Development Institute had confirmed 19 dolphin deaths over a five-month period. The Government had acted as soon as this was known.

Fisheries director Will Zacharin said fishermen would accept the need to take such action.
"I think the fishermen all understand the situation in relation to the interim results we have had from the independent monitoring program," he said.

"The fishing industry recognises that something must be done to ensure we mitigate any further mortalities of dolphins." Asked if the move would affect livelihoods, Mr Zacharin said there would be time over the rest of the season for the industry to fill its quotas.

He said the tuna pens which relied on the pilchards for feed had about six days of supplies left and the Government hoped to resolve the situation within that time.

Marine Scale Pilchard Fisherman's Association president Leith Whittaker said one of the options being looked at was the provision of "gates" in fishing nets to allow dolphins to escape.

Dolphins new protection laws

Dolphin survival is Govt's early Xmas present

The Government's announced intention to protect the critically endangered Maui and Hectors Dolphins is an early Christmas present for marine conservation, Green Party Associate Environment Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope has today said that the Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation will have a Threat Management Plan for the dolphins ready by Christmas.

"The Greens are very pleased that Labour is taking the threat from fishing to these precious and vulnerable species seriously," Mrs Turei says.

"Following on from Mr Benson-Pope's launch a couple of days ago of the first Government strategy to address the effects of fishing on our all endangered species, we have to acknowledge that this Government is making some progress on marine conservation.

"This is timely, as it is quite likely that a National-led Government would put about as much priority on protecting our undersea forest ecologies as they do for those on land - not much. A Green-Labour Government is the best guarantee that marine conservation will continue to move forward.
"For instance, it is not just fishing and related activities that threaten these dolphins. New activities such as seabed prospecting and mining are also a threat, as we're seeing with permits having been granted for iron sand prospecting off the North Island and gold prospecting off the South Island.

"I have recently been campaigning in coastal communities on the potential threats that seabed prospecting and mining may have on the dolphins covered by this newly proposed plan and other marine mammals.

"The maximum death rate from human impact that the Maui dolphin population can sustain is one death every six years. Therefore the plan must include a mandatory zero, or near zero, by-catch limit for the dolphins, the closure of the fisheries when the by-catch limit is reached and an absolute prohibition on seabed mining within the dolphin habitats.

"The Greens are especially concerned that Seafields Ltd have a permit to use seismic testing to prospect for gold and mineral on the seabed. There is international research that links seismic testing with strandings of whales and other marine mammals.

"If we are to truly protect these dolphins, all fishing and extractive technologies must pass a sustainability impact test before they are used in their habitats. Fishing and other activities can proceed, but only as long as they will not harm the dolphins.

"The Greens also want to see more marine mammal sanctuaries, an extension of the existing protection area in Banks Peninsula and a much higher level of protection for the Maui Dolphin off the North Island."

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"