A leading tourism operator is calling for Government action in the wake of the death of two Hector's dolphins found washed up on a beach near the Waimakariri River mouth in north Canterbury this week.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is investigating after a member of the public found the pair entangled in a fishing net, and reported the find to the Department of Conservation.
Black Cat Cruises Managing Director Paul Bingham said the current protection of the endangered Hector Dolphins in Canterbury was just not good enough.
“The use of set nets is banned under the Fisheries Act for only four nautical miles along the entire east coast of the South Island to protect the dolphins; it should be at least double that,” he said.
“Two Hector’s Dolphin deaths are significant for a population of only 900 around Banks Peninsula. It is a serious issue and we need the Minister to take some action. These dolphins live close inshore and are particularly at risk of getting caught in set nets and drowning.”
Bingham said that Hector Dolphins numbers were still in decline and that it was extremely important more action was taken now to increase the protection in place.
Ministry spokesman Scott Gallacher said the fishing net found around the dolphins was thought be a recreational one.