[22 February/The Country]

The Government needs to do more to hold the fishing industry accountable after an error highlighted significant bycatch issues, according to the environmental advocacy group Forest and Bird. The Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed that 39 dolphin captures reported in December last year were coding errors. The species caught was actually petrels. Forest and Bird Spokesman, Geoff Keey, said that it was hugely concerning, and that swapping dead dolphins for dead seabirds was no great relief. The incidents in 2017 were equivalent to a 20-fold increase on the previous annual average, however neither the MPI nor the fishing company noticed anything unusual and did not conduct any investigations. A spokeswoman from the MPI acknowledged that it should have been investigated even though it was found to be wrong, and that they are ensuring processes are in place to identify such incidents promptly in the future.