Monday, 27 July 2009


We got a call from Bluff last week from some good old boys who were at a funeral for a bloke we had grown up with - he wasn't much past fifty - so our mortal coil tightened up a bit at the news. RIP Manuel.

Anyway the boys who were at the wake started talking about the fact that one of the captains of the fleet was in a bit of bother, as reported in the ODT

Fishermen have been ordered to carry observers on board their boats to check to see if they are catching Hector's Dolphins in their nets. A couple refused to comply and now they are facing court action.

We reckon our old mate and CE of the Federation of Commercial fishermen, Pete Dawson sums the issue up succinctly ( Pete is the king of succinctness)

Federation of Commercial Fishermen chief executive Peter Dawson said the ministry's move to prosecute was "bloody minded" given the letters instructing fishermen to take observers failed to explain fishermen's rights or address safety concerns.

"As a consequence [these fishermen] stuck to their guns and face getting a criminal conviction."

Observers spent 963 days at sea and did not see a Hector's dolphin death, yet the ministry was going ahead with prosecutions, he said.

All it did was raise the levels of antagonism between the ministry and fishermen and put fishermen already facing hard times in an even tougher position.

"Education is far better than putting the boot in."

We agree, now the Bluff vessel in question is neither big nor flash - its about 50 feet and while observers on big mid size trawlers need to take a cut lunch and a compass to get to the aft end of a boat - on the seized vessel in question, the net drums are within spitting distance of the focs'le. ( the little house bit where the skipper spends his day. )

So this is going to be an argument about safety.

Now we love Hectors - they look a lot like Tuna so its a fair guess they taste pretty good but we have in our relentless battle to protect all Charismatic Mega Fauna, given these cute wee guys more protection than we give kids from sexual predators.

That's just daft. And for boats like the one MAF has seized, having someone on board, purely so they can have a "look see" when you are in heavy southern seas would be a bloody nightmare.

We reckon that these fishermen, if paid a smallish bounty for every Hectors dolphin they see and photograph or video ( remember they can plot their exact location), would give us a far better idea of their population and their habits.

Costs are high enough for these particular fishermen and we agree with Pete - education would be far better than this silliness.

MAF has far bigger fish to fry - like rooting out the organised crime that is pillaging our coast of paua but hell it is easy to pick off a couple of small time trawlermen than gang members isn't it? And the environmental and economic damage of paua poaching is quantifiable while there is no hard evidence that these trawlers are having a disastrous effect on the southern Hector dolphin population.

These two boats have dared to do what the rest of the fleet wanted to but were too scared to because of the financial consequences. It is time for some intervention and a new way of thinking. That way we might just take some sensible steps to protect these tasty wee marine flyers instead of making a small human segment of the seafood industry an endangered species.


Farmer Baby Boomer said...

All this money and time spent going after these little guys would been better spent on the
"big fish" in the scampi/hoki situation that you posted on and had a list questions about in election year. Any comments BB?

euminedes said...

yip you are right - but that would require a bit more effort