1 Oct 2011

Endangered dolphin deaths threaten species

8:19 am on 1 October 2011

Research suggests Hector's dolphins, which are found only in New Zealand waters, are being caught in fishing nets at a rate that is unsustainable for the species.

A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand found that 23 dolphins were caught in fishing nets on the East Coast of the South Island between May 2009 and April 2010.

It says the sustainable limit would be one dolphin a year, and if bycatch deaths continue at the current rate, the total population of about 8000 will drop by 14% by 2050.

Study authors Dr Liz Slooten from Otago University and Dr Nick Davies from the Oceanic Fisheries Programme in New Caledonia examined past and present research as part of their work.