Government delays put Maui’s dolphin at further risk

Press release - September 6, 2013
Auckland, 6 September, 2013 – The New Zealand Government’s continued delays to protect Maui’s dolphin moves the species closer to extinction, says Greenpeace.

The Government’s long overdue threat management plan for Maui’s dolphin was this afternoon re-opened for another round of public consultation, a year and a half after it first started discussions on increasing protection when a population estimate revealed numbers had plummeted to only 55 dolphins over one year old.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has called for more public feedback on a slight change to the previous draft plan which now includes an extension to the set net ban off an area of the Taranaki coast.

Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas says the new proposal falls well short of expert advice and public opinion.

“The small extension would still leave a vast area of the marine mammal sanctuary open to gill nets and trawling which are the methods most deadly for Maui’s dolphins,” she says.

“Tens of thousands of public submissions last year clearly called on the Government to follow expert advice on how to protect the dolphins. Now the Minister is coming back and basically saying “erm – how about we don’t do that?” and calling it a public consultation. This is yet another delay which brings us a step closer to becoming the first country to oversee the extinction of a marine dolphin due to human causes.

“The extinction of Maui’s dolphin would be a huge blow to New Zealand’s record for wildlife conservation that has seen a number of species brought back from the brink of extinction - and to our international reputation as an environmentally friendly country.”
In June the International Whaling Commission released a report stating any human-caused death to Maui’s dolphin would increase the chances of the species being wiped out (1). It called on the New Zealand Government to impose a total ban on set net and trawl fishing in all areas where Maui’s dolphins are found.

Almost a year ago the Government asked New Zealanders what should be done to protect Maui's dolphins, and received an unprecedented 70,000 submissions - the vast majority calling for full protection throughout the dolphins' habitat, as experts have advised.

Greenpeace is calling for an immediate and extended ban on gillnets, set nets and trawling – the main threats to Maui’s dolphin – throughout the dolphins’ habitat along the west coast of the North Island from Maunganui Bluff (north of Dargaville) to Whanganui, including harbours and extending to the 100 meter depth contour. Greenpeace is also calling for a prohibition on seismic surveying and petroleum drilling in an extended Marine Mammal Protection Sanctuary for Maui’s dolphins