Greens' pledge for Maui's dolphins

02:42, Aug 24 2014
MAUI'S DOLPHIN: Only 55 are believed to exist.

The Greens will ban set-net fishing, trawling and gas and oil exploration within reserve areas home to the Maui's dolphin, the party says.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said today $20 million would be given to fishermen who might face "hardship" if the ban took place.

"The money will be spent in consultation with the affected fishers, but it is anticipated that the money will be used as transitional support to alternative dolphin-friendly fishing gear, including support for technology-led research and appropriate permitting," Turei said, announcing the third component of the party's environmental policy.

According to the Government's own figures "the annual revenue lost by closing these fisheries is only $13.5 million, which is less than 1 per cent of New Zealand's $1.5 billion annual seafood exports", she said.

Only 55 Maui's dolphins are believed to exist.

They are found only in New Zealand waters, primarily on the west Coast of the North Island from Maunganui Bluff to the Whanganui River.

The area has been made a marine mammal sanctuary, but oil and gas exploration is allowed and goes on within it.

"National's sham sanctuary allows dangerous oil drilling, seismic surveying, seabed mining, and fishing methods which are lethal to Maui's dolphins," Turei said.

"It's closer to a slaughterhouse than a safe house."

However, the Government has maintained that no dolphins have been killed as a result of oil and gas exploration.

The Greens' announcement comes after a Colmar Brunton poll released last month showed 60 per cent of New Zealanders were likely to vote for parties that would push for restrictions on set nets and trawl nets.

Labour has indicated it would also pursue policies to protect the dolphins.

However, leader David Cunliffe said he would not necessarily oppose oil exploration in the Maui's habitat, if "done responsibly".

The Greens said at the weekend they would be prepared to walk away from a coalition deal with Labour if it did not ban deep-sea drilling.

Cunliffe refused to comment on the Green's policy at the weekend, but has already said he supports oil exploration, though with greater regulations.