First of our summer patrols at the beloved Te Waewae! This bay has one of the most iconic Pahu (Hector’s dolphin) communities in New Zealand. It is especially sad our Governments have allowed trawling in this Marine Mammal Sanctuary since its creation back in 2008. Conservation bodies like the International Whaling commission (IWC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have been recommending against this practice for the last 6-7 years.
Our crew spotted Pahu less than 200m behind several commercial fishing vessels and unfortunately the dolphins appeared to be following them. One of the trawlers was well within the no trawl area (2 nautical miles). However, because they were supposedly using a “low headline-height trawl net” the restriction does not apply and those extremely dangerous practices for our native dolphins remain legal. There is no evidence that this type of gear actually reduces the number of dolphins caught but it does provide companies with a loophole and enable them to continue to work within ecologically sensitive areas. We can’t be there all the time but we’ll endeavour to be there for the Pahu when we can.