Over the past 12 months, 44 common dolphins were caught in fishing nets in the Bay of Plenty, a large bight in the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
The bycatch was a result of purse seine fishing and although it’s not clear what the target species was, the dominant purse seine fishery in the area targets Jack mackerel. The dolphins were snared in just three separate incidents. For so many dolphins to be caught in one year, in one region, is very concerning as while not all the captured dolphins died, it’s likely that some animals which were released alive, died later from their injuries.
In the past seven years, 53 dolphins have been caught by commercial fishers in the region’s waters. The figures, just released by Forest & Bird, have been met with shock and alarm and highlight the vital importance of the planned roll-out of cameras and GPS trackers on boats, to enable scientists to see exactly what’s going on under the ocean surface as not all fishers may report their cetacean bycatch numbers.
A purse seine is a large wall of netting deployed around an entire area or school of fish. The lead line is then pulled in, “pursing” the net closed on the bottom, preventing fish and other marine species such as dolphins from escaping. The nets are then usually hauled aboard the fishing vessel.
Those choosing to eat fish and/or seafood must ask how/where it was sourced from and caught. Please be an ethical shopper – what you choose really does matter.