Two dead dolphins are found entangled in a gillnet on Waikuku Beach, just north of Christchurch – another reminder that Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are still being killed in fishing nets around New Zealand.
The number of dolphin deaths in commercial gillnets has apparently been reduced from 35-46 per year to 23 per year off the east coast of the South Island. A sustainable number of dolphin deaths per year, from all human impacts combined, would be 2-4 per year. So we have a long way to go to achieve a sustainable population of Hector,s dolphins off the South Island east coast – let alone ensure recovery from the massive losses over the last three or four decades.
In other parts of the country the proportion of fishing boats with independent observers is too low to allow the number of dolphin deaths to be estimated – i.e. The North Island west coast and South Island north, west and south coasts. For these areas the best we can do is compare the number of dead dolphins stranded each year and the number of dolphin deaths voluntarily reported by fishermen. Unfortunately, in none of these areas is there any indication that the number of dolphin deaths has been substantially reduced.