19 Mar 2011

Butterfish netting restriction lifted

8:44 am on 19 March 2011

The Ministry of Fisheries is lifting a butterfish netting ban on parts of the South Island's east coast.

A High Court ruling last year allowed two net fishing restrictions to be reconsidered.

The restrictions were put in place in 2008 to protect Hector's and Maui's dolphins.

One decision under review was the extension of commercial set net restrictions on the west coast of the North Island from four nautical miles to seven nautical miles from the shore.

The second was a ban on commercial butterfish netting in an area off the east coast of the South Island.

The ministry has decided the restrictions on the west coast will stay in place, but it will allow butterfish netting on the east coast.

The World Wildlife Fund says the South Island decision poses a threat to Hector's dolphins.

It says if the species is to recover, butterfish netting should not be allowed.

The Ministry of Fisheries says it considered that concern, but believes butterfish netting will pose little risk to the dolphins because the nets are small.