No legal action to be taken in Moko the dolphin case
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionDOC will be taking no further action following the alleged harassment of Moko the Dolphin that occurred at Omaio Bay on the East Coast two weeks ago.
Date: 26 January 2010
The Department of Conservation will be taking no further action following the alleged harassment of Moko the Dolphin that occurred at Omaio Bay on the East Coast two weeks ago.
After completing a thorough investigation in which the alleged offender and eyewitnesses provided statements to the investigation team, DOC Compliance staff made a formal report to management and recommended that no legal action be taken against the alleged offender in this case.
East Coast Bay of Plenty Conservator, Henry Weston, said “The report determined that there was insufficient evidence available for a prosecution and DOC will not be pursuing the matter further.”
While the report did recommend that a formal warning be issued to the alleged offender under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, Mr Weston determined that this was not necessary given the lack of evidence.
He went on to say that “The legal and social issues are not straightforward when we are dealing with a dolphin that actively seeks out human interaction when the Marine Mammals Protection Act is focused on managing human interactions with marine mammals rather than vice versa.”
Instead he will be ensuring that the public are informed of the need for real caution in any interaction with the dolphin, to protect both the dolphin and themselves. He also made it clear that the Department takes its role for the protection of marine mammals seriously, and will take action where it can be fully determined that intentional harassment has occurred.”
The incident occurred when Moko the dolphin arrived at Omaio Bay between Opotiki and Te Kaha. It was reported to DOC that, a local resident repeatedly struck the dolphin with a paddle.
In spite of the incident, DOC has confirmed that Moko is in good health and is behaving normally and that no signs of injury or trauma are visible on the dolphin’s body. The local Area staff have worked hard to raise awareness and prevent harm to both members of the public and to Moko, and will continue to do so.
Reuben Williams, Senior Communication Advisor, National Office:
+64 4 471 3139; +64 27 257 2216