'We all have a role to play' - fishing companies to make changes to protect threatened Maui's dolphin

Two fishing companies have pledged to change the way they operate on the North Island's west coast, in a bid to safeguard the future of the endangered Maui's dolphin. 

There are thought to be less than 100 of the world's smallest dolphin left.

Protection for our critically endangered Maui's dolphin has been given a boost. Source: 1 NEWS

They are only found off the west coast of the North Island in relatively shallow waters.

As a result, Moana New Zealand - the largest Maori owned fisheries company and half owner of Sealord -  and operator Sanford have pledged to stop conventional trawling within the 100m depth contour by the end of 2022.

They will also end set netting and trawling out to a depth of 100m north of New Plymouth from October next year, and will spend $500,000 to put video monitoring equipment on all vessels.

"We all have a role to play in protecting these mammals," said Sanford's Volker Kuntzsch. 

"Our livelihoods depend on what’s out there in the oceans, and that does not only mean on the species we catch, but the health of the whole ecosystem."

The companies have pledged to work with operators whose catching rights are affected.

Environmental groups have long criticised fishing companies and the government for not doing enough to protect the Maui's dolphin.

Source: Fairfax



New rules allow ministers' nannies to travel on the taxpayer, but PM says she will cover cost of Clarke Gayford's US trip

New rules for ministers with babies who are travelling overseas allow them to to take a nanny or carer paid for by taxpayers. 

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she does not expect the taxpayer to pay for both her partner, Clarke Gayford, and a carer for their baby Neve, NZ Herald reports.

Ms Ardern and Mr Gayford, along with their baby, are travelling to New York today for Leaders' Week for the UN General Assembly.

The prime minister says that she will be paying for her partner's flights, since there are not many engagements for partners.

"There is no spousal programme for this, so we just made a judgment call that we would cover his travel for this trip. He will be going to some things, but he's primarily travelling to care for Neve."

After Ms Ardern became prime minister, the guidelines for ministers' overseas travel were reviewed and changed, reports the Herald.

Now, a minister with young infants is allowed to take someone, other than a partner, to care for that child or for a minister with a disability to take a support person if needed.

Ms Ardern said she never sought for the change and did not intend to use the entitlement for herself, and would only allow it for ministers in "exceptional circumstances."

The prime minister signs off on all ministerial travel overseas, other than to Australia, including deciding whether partners can travel with ministers and who pays for them.

Other ministers with young babies currently include the Green Party's Julie Anne Genter and Education Minister Chris Hipkins, whose partner had a second child this week.

Ms Ardern told the Herald she did not expect to have travel with more than one person, but if there was a situation which required both Mr Gayford and another carer for Neve, she would pay for that extra person out of her own pocket.

"We are playing it by ear. There is no set plan, it's just whether or not she's getting enough sleep, where I am for feeds. They might be with us a lot, they might just be in the hotel,” she said.

In New York, Ms Ardern is also staying in apartment-type accommodation rather than the usual hotel because kitchen facilities were needed for Neve.

Ms Ardern said she had made sure it did not cost more than was usual.

Jacinda Ardern, Clarke Gayford and baby Neve. Source: 1 NEWS

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Sunday preview: What is the future for whitebait?

By Matt Chisholm

Whitebait are being wiped out but people can’t agree on how much of an impact fishing has on these species Source: Sunday

Saturday morning at the market. I bite the bullet, line up and buy one. It's a delicious, piping-hot, wee taste of home, but boy do I feel guilty. Not guilty enough to stop at one, though. I go back for a second. Then a third.

I've read the headlines. Read the entire stories. Whitebait are being wiped out because of people like me. They could soon be gone forever - and it's my fault. Or is it?

According to a Department of Conservation report released last year, three of the five whitebait species are "at risk/declining" and one species is "threatened".

Everyone agrees humans are having a huge impact on whitebait habitat, but people don't agree on how much of an impact fishing has on these species.

To help protect these native fish Forest and Bird are calling for recreational catch limits and a complete commercial ban on whitebaiting.

"Here is a species that are in trouble and there's no limit at all to the amount that you can catch" says Forest and Bird's Kevin Hague.

But Dr Mike Hickford, a marine ecologist at the University of Canterbury says fears of wiping out whitebait are grossly overblown. "I don't think we will ever wipe out whitebait" he says.

Hickford says a distinction needs to be made between adult and the post-larvae fish. "There's no doubt that the adult stage of these fish are in trouble, but it doesn't translate to the whitebait".

Hickford says there's no evidence to suggest at this stage that whitebaiting affects the threatened adult population, which spawn in such huge numbers.

"The majority of those whitebaits that are coming back in to the river, they're going to die anyway, they always have died and they still will die in the future no matter what we do".

Despite a lack of clear evidence, Kevin Hague says restrictions on how we catch whitebait, how much we can catch and the sale of whitebait should be introduced before the start of next 3-month long season (Sept-Nov).

"We don't want to interfere with someone's ability to go and get a feed for their family, but we just think there should be some tools that we use to actually reduce the pressure on these species".

Cascade Whitebait, one of New Zealand's biggest commercial whitebaiters, fish each season on the isolated Cascade river, just south of Haast.

Nan Brown, whose parents helped set up the operation 70 years ago, says their records don't show any decline in whitebait catch.   She wants to hold on to their fishery and says, "It would be unfair to let the guillotine drop on something you don't know enough about.” 

Watch the full story tomorrow night AT 7.30pm on SUNDAY TVNZ1 or TVNZOnDemand

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Watch: Hundreds of metres of Greek coastline blanketed by spider webs

 It's not quite the World Wide Web - but the spiders of Aitoliko in Greece have made a good start.

Spurred into overdrive by an explosion in the populations of insects they eat, thousands of little spiders in the western Greek town have shrouded coastal trees, bushes and low vegetation in thick webs.

The sticky white lines extend for a few hundred meters along the shoreline of Aitoliko, built on an artificial island in a salt lagoon near Missolonghi, 250 kilometres west of Athens.

Experts told local media that the numbers of lake flies, a non-biting midge, have rocketed amid humid late summer conditions. Spiders, which fancy the flies, reproduced fast to take full advantage of the feast.

Residents say the extensive spider webs have another benefit: keeping down mosquitoes.


A recent increase in the mosquito population has resulted in perfect conditions for spiders to thrive and multiply. Source: Associated Press


Man in serious condition following assault near Christchurch mall

A 41-year-old man is in a serious but stable condition in a Christchurch hospital, following an attack in the early hours this morning.

Police have cordoned off an area beside the Hornby Mall, on Shands Road, for a scene examination.

It is expected to be cleared by midday today.

Police are continuing to investigate the scene to establish what occurred.

File image of an Ambulance outside a hospital. Source: 1 NEWS