Dolphins vs SailGP

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon believes the cancellation of SailGP racing in Lyttleton following dolphin sightings speaks to New Zealand’s “obstruction economy” and its level of “red tape”.

However, he acknowledged SailGP organisers agreed to protocols concerning environmental protection and said a balance needed to be struck between running “world-class events” and protecting the environment.

Addressing the event being unable to go ahead on Saturday, DoC deputy director of general operations Henry Weston noted that in New Zealand, the Marine Mammals Protection Act and Marine Mammals Protection Regulations direct how vessels must behave around marine mammals and says it is illegal to harass or disturb them.

“All vessels and people involved in the SailGP event, including any support boats or spectators, must abide by this legislation. It is a legal requirement. People controlling vessels who encounter a dolphin or other marine mammal must travel no faster than idle/no wake speed if within 300 metres of a dolphin, and not herd, harass or obstruct marine mammals or cut through groups,” Weston said.

This wasn’t about boats trying to hit dolphins or even being within a few metres of them. The rules mean you can’t race if one dolphin is within 300 metres!

Sure SailGP agreed to the rules, but it would be nice to weigh up benefits vs risks.

There is a tiny risk that one out of 15,000 dolphins may feel slightly distressed as yachts race a few hundred metres away, and it may feel pressured to swim somewhere else.

Weigh that up against the thousands of people who had paid tickets to watch the race, and the preparation of all the teams.

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