23 Nov 2009

Stricter limits on dolphin watching planned

8:58 pm on 23 November 2009

The dolphin tourism business off Kaikoura will be more strictly controlled under new regulations planned by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

No new commercial boat permits for watching and swimming with dusky dolphins will be granted for five years as DoC looks to increase protection of the mammals.

Nelson-Marlborough conservator Neil Clifton says the move follows research showing dolphins' behaviour is affected by tour boat activity.

He says, however, that DoC will await feedback from operators before introducing the new rules.

Dennis Buurman from Encounter Kaikoura hopes DOC will revise one proposal - the one limiting boats to four approaches per trip to dolphins to drop off swimmers.

It's possible, he says, to protect dolphins' welfare without ruining the tourist experience.