Dolphin deaths feared

CARALISE TRAYES
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2013
Hatfields Beach

RISKY BUSINESS: Setnets like these left high and dry at Hatfields Beach have dolphin and whale watchers worried.

Ferguson
WATCHFUL EYE: David and Glenys Ferguson of Tindalls Bay are keeping watch over setnets, often left unattended close to shore. They fear dolphins and orca will get caught.

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It's A matter of time before a dolphin or orca gets trapped in a setnet.

that's the view of Tindalls Bay residents David and Glenys Ferguson who have already seen a six-metre shark caught in one and dragged to shore.

They live in a home overlooking the eastern end of Manly Beach and can see the shallows where setnetters frequent. They support calls for setnet bans in popular areas.

Glenys says they see people put nets straight from the shore, out to near the rocks.

"The nets aren't above the full tide line like they are supposed to be.

"They put them in really shallow and when the tide goes out they are left on the ground."

David says nets are sometimes left unmonitored over several days.

The Fergusons are members of Whale Watch and make several calls a year reporting sightings of orca and dolphins in the bay.

"We have seen orca come right in to shore, waist-deep water, in full tide to feed. Once we saw a mother bring her young right in," David says.

"We also get dolphins in the shallows regularly."

David saw 20 dolphins jumping right in front of him just last year.

"If the nets were there they would have got trapped."

They run a bed and breakfast from their home and say it is just a matter of time before mammals get caught if nets continue to be set.

"What upsets us is that we have couples from all over the world staying with us," Glenys says.

"We worry about the day when an animal gets caught and a tourist sees it struggling. They would be horrified.

"I don't know why they don't just ban setnets entirely."

Common dolphin feed off a number of beaches across the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, chasing the same fish that setnetters hope to snag.

Setnet opponents also fear for swimmers who get tangled in the nets.

Only Arkles Bay has a setnet ban.

The Auckland Council is reviewing public bylaws and people are invited to make submissions between February 15 and March 15 online.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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