Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson was shocked to learn of the discovery of a pair of endangered Hectors dolphins that washed up inside a marine sanctuary.
The two dolphins were found entangled in a fishing net on the beach near the Waimakariri River mouth yesterday, around 30km inside the northern limit of the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
The 413,000 hectare zone covers Banks Peninsula and stretches north to the Waipara River.
Under fisheries legislation set netting is banned along most of the east coast of the South Island out to four nautical miles.
“This should never have happened. The marine mammal sanctuary is a key area for Hectors Dolphin and is designed to protect them,“ Ms Wilkinson says.
“These dolphins were found on the beach well inside the sanctuary, which means there is a distinct possibility this was the result of illegal fishing activity.”
Ms Wilkinson has condemned the incident as the law requires anyone who captures a protected species as bycatch to report it to the authorities.
“Anyone who accidentally captures an endangered mammal must report it. There are only around 7,000 Hectors left ."
"Reporting incidents provides valuable data about the population which allow us to make decisions about how to best manage the species."
The Department of Conservation will work closely with MAF who are investigating the matter further.