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New Zealand Government plans to expand protection for Maui and Hector’s dolphins

New Zealand Government plans to expand protection for Maui and Hector’s dolphins
June 18, 2019

The New Zealand Government is taking action to expand and strengthen the protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins with an updated plan to deal with threats to these native marine mammals.

Releasing proposals for consultation for a revised Threat Management Plan to protect the Hector’s and Māui dolphins, New Zealand Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage stated "these precious dolphins are New Zealand taonga. We need to act now to ensure their populations increase and both species thrive.

“Māui dolphins are nationally critical, with only an estimated 63 dolphins remaining. Hector’s dolphins are nationally vulnerable with about 15,000 in New Zealand waters.

“The proposals include options for a significant expansion of the areas of ocean free of set nets and trawl nets to protect dolphins from the risk of bycatch in fishing nets. They are based on the best available science, New Zealand and international expertise.

“This information makes it clear that the risks of bycatch to dolphins have reduced in areas where there are restrictions on set netting and trawling."

New Zealand Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash also advised “the Government recently announced that cameras were being placed on commercial fishing vessels operating in the areas of highest risk to Māui dolphins. The proposals in the new Threat Management Plan are part of a wider and ambitious programme of change in fisheries management this year.

“Together, they provide for the long-term protection of Hector’s and Māui dolphins and address a wide range of threats. The document recognises the need to carefully balance the proposals to protect dolphins, against the impact the changes could have on people and their livelihoods. 

“The scientific risk assessment has been through multiple rounds of peer review, including by an international panel of experts, and it draws on a range of new information. Combining the latest data and expertise means this is the most comprehensive and robust assessment to date of the risks to the dolphins."

The discussion document includes proposals to extend the boundaries of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary south to Wellington and for the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary to extend north to Kaikōura, south to Timaru, and offshore to 20 nautical miles.

The discussion document identifies other threats that need to be dealt with to protect the dolphins; including toxoplasmosis and sub-lethal threats such as seismic surveys and seabed mining. It includes options ranging from requiring compliance with the Department of Conservation code of conduct for seismic surveying in New Zealand’s five marine mammal sanctuaries set up to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins to prohibiting seismic surveys and seabed mining within the sanctuaries.

The proposals also include the Department of Conservation developing an action plan to deal with toxoplasmosis, a disease that can affect dolphins and other marine mammals, by targeting research to answer knowledge gaps, enhancing education for cat owners and advocating for riparian and wetland restoration.

A moratorium on commercial tourism permits targeting Māui dolphins is also proposed to minimise the disturbance to the dolphins from boats.

Minister Nash added “there’s keen public interest in protecting the dolphins, with many articulate letters from young people coming into our offices. Now there’s a chance for public feedback to help us improve these proposals."

Minister Sage concluded "we know people are passionate about marine mammals and there are a wide range of views out there about the best way to protect them. I encourage everyone to share their thoughts and make a difference."

Related Articles

12th June 2019 - New Dolphin attraction opens in Thailand

19th March 2019 - Coffs Harbour’s marine attraction ends breeding dolphins in captivity

2nd January 2019 - Queensland Government to allow dolphin feeding to continue in Tin Can Bay

21st November 2017 - Monkey Mia tourism to benefit from Federal infrastructure boost

15th April 2017 - Coffs Harbour dolphin attraction facing court for ‘misleading’ animal welfare claims

9th April 2017 - Japanese aquariums quit industry body over Taiji cove dolphin ban

5th April 2017 - New report estimates cost of saving Maui dolphins

26th February 2017 - NSW shark nets kill endangered dolphins and turtles

8th December 2016 - First endangered baby Hector’s Dolphin spotted in Akaroa Harbour

30th September 2015 - New Zealand looks to create massive marine sanctuary

14th June 2014 - New Zealand rejects calls to further protect Maui’s dolphin


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