Fisheries Infosite

Environmental Issue

 Inshore set net - Hector's and Maui dolphin entanglement

Hector's and Maui dolphins sometimes get tangled in set nets and drown.
Hector’s and Maui dolphins are protected species. Hector's dolphin is listed by the Department of Conservation as 'Nationally Endangered', while Maui dophins are classified as 'Critically Endangered'. Fishing-related deaths of Maui dolphins pose a significant risk to the species' survival.
Extent of the issue
There is a moderate amount of commercial and non-commercial set net fishing in nearshore areas around New Zealand. What we know about dolphin deaths in these fisheries is limited and comes through our limited observer coverage (<1% in commercial set net fisheries), self-reporting and dead animals that wash ashore.
These dolphin populations have probabbly decreased, but the science is very uncertain. Recent set net restrictions are likely to reduce the number of dolphin deaths. In terms of Maui dolphins, the restrictions will mean virtually no dolphins will be killed by fishing.
Current management
Set net restrictions have been brought in to address the issue of Hector's and Maui dolphin deaths. The measures include seasonal and area set-net closures around New Zealand's North and South Islands.
Future management
Observer coverage on commercial set net vessels has been increased in 2009. The results of this will inform any further decisions around managing set net fishing. 
Documents / links
Hector's and Maui dolphin Threat Manageement plan, DOC [], Risk Assesment - Davies report on website.