Fishing industry heads to court

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2012
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Keith Mawson

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Taranaki commercial fishermen are poised to take the Government to court to prevent introduction of a set-net ban off the region's coastline.

They will be seeking a judicial review of the decision to impose the ban, claiming that no firm evidence exists to support it.

Planning has also started for a petition to be launched – potentially to be called "Naki Fish for Naki People" – protesting the fact that once the set-net ban is introduced it will instantly result in a severe shortage of fresh fish in the region.

The ban, which will take effect on July 28, is designed to protect the endangered Maui's dolphin, which conservation authorities claim may be present in Taranaki waters – even though none have been seen in at least 25 years.

Announcement of the ban has caused uproar in the commercial fishing industry, which claims it will be an utterly futile exercise that will jeopardise up to 50 jobs and $15 million in annual income for the Taranaki region.

Yesterday, Taranaki commercial fishing spokesman Keith Mawson confirmed lawyers were now urgently investigating if there are grounds for a judicial review.

"We're looking at it. We're analysing the advice received by the Minister for Primary Industries which was used for this decision. We think there are some discrepancies there," he said.

"What is rapidly becoming evident is that rather than making its decision based on accurate information, the Government has based the announcement to ban the set-nets purely on noise from the environmental sector."

When the new restrictions are introduced, all commercial and recreational use of set-nets will be banned along the entire Taranaki coast and two nautical miles (3.7 km) out to sea. In addition, the use of commercial set-nets between 2nm and 7nm will be prohibited without a taxpayer-funded observer on board.

These restrictions will remain in place at least until a government review of the Hector's and Maui's dolphin Threat Management Plan is completed later this year.

But Mr Mawson said he feared the ban would contribute nothing

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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