Fisheries New Zealand has received 2 reports from commercial fishers of Hector's dolphins caught during trawl fishing off the East Coast of the South Island this summer. There was one event where 1 dolphin was caught and another where 3 were caught.
Manager inshore fisheries Steve Halley says that it was good to see that the fishers reported the captures so quickly.
"Any captures of these dolphins is extremely disappointing. Hector's dolphins are nationally endangered taonga and we're interested to find out as much as we can about these captures so we can work with the industry to avoid them occurring," says Mr Halley.
"Prompt reporting by fishers ensures the best opportunity to gather details about these incidents, and in this case, the commercial fishers reported the captures immediately, which enabled recovery of 3 dolphins for necropsy," Mr Halley says.
The Department of Conservation, (DOC) will include information about these captures in its Hector's and Māui Dolphin Incident Database, which records date, location and cause of mortalities, where known. Incidents are published on DOC's website quarterly.
DOC's manager marine species and threats, Ian Angus says this information will help inform our approach towards protecting Hector's dolphins from human-related activities.
"We also encourage the public to report beachcast dolphins as soon as possible. The earlier we can examine them, the better information we have to build a picture of the risks posed to these marine mammals."
The Hector's and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan is currently being reviewed by DOC and Fisheries New Zealand with public consultation planned during 2019.
Hector's dolphins are listed as nationally endangered, with an estimated population of 15,000.