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Minister slams dolphin haul

Published: 10:49PM Tuesday March 18, 2008 Source: ONE News

Three months after the slaughter of nearly two-dozen dolphins in a fishing expedition, the government has released graphic photographics.
 
Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick has slammed the fishing industry for the accidental haul of the mammals and hopes the images will put a stop to the unnecessary killing.
 
Dolphins are considered second only to humans in intelligence and yet the slaughter of the mammals continues.

"We were really shocked and, as the pictures show you, it is quite shocking," says Chadwick.

The dolphins were caught in a trawling expedition off the west coast of the North Island in December.

It is because of the sheer number of dolphins caught in just one fishing trip that Chadwick has now released the photos.

"It's unprecedented to see 22 in one month. Twenty in a year was only barely tolerable with marine mammals. Twenty two 22 in a month has horrified us, says Chadwick.

Fishermen are allowed to trawl for fish but once they spot dolphins in the area, they are supposed to raise their nets.

On this occasion two boats did and two kept fishing, says Chadwick.

"The boats are supposed to move on. So it's not acceptable that boats didn't follow that code of practice," says Owen Symmans, a spokesman for Wellington's Seafood Industry Council.

ONE News wanted to know who the boats belong to. That information has not been released. But it seems punishment is on the cards.

"Downstream if there's issues of prosecution that's for the Ministry of Fisheries to decide," says Chadwick.

Symmans says they rely on industry participants to react responsibly and they will be talked to.

The minister is now promising to keep an eye on dolphin catches with a warning to the fishing industry that things could get tough if you don't comply.

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