Greenpeace is calling the Government’s latest proposal to save Māui and Hector’s dolphins a “pathway to extinction for the world’s rarest dolphin species”.

Proposals for the critically endangered Māui and endangered Hector’s dolphin have been released by the Government this morning, following months of delays.

But Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel says the options proposed do not go far enough.

“Both the United Nations and the Ministry for the Environment confirm that New Zealand is in an ecological crisis, with more native species at risk of extinction than any other country,” he says.

“We’re living through the world’s sixth mass extinction. Māui and Hector’s are at the top of the threatened lists. It’s thirty seconds to midnight for these creatures yet the Government is still offering half measures to protect them, that are certain to fail.”

“While the Government has finally offered one option for strong protections for Māui, the lack of ambition for Hector’s is frankly depressing.

“We must ban all gill netting and trawling from Māui habitat out to 100 metres immediately, but why aren’t the same protections being offered for Hector’s dolphins?  We know they are dying by the dozen in fishing nets but there is no equivalent proposal to stop those methods in Hector’s habitat.

“It’s as if the Government is waiting until Hector’s dolphins plummet into nationally critical territory like Māui before taking action. It amounts to willfully driving a species to the brink of extinction.

“Globally, one million species are at risk of extinction. With these dolphins we know the greatest threat to them and we have for years – it’s human fishing methods. Are we really going to sit back and watch as our native dolphins – the smallest and rarest in the world – go extinct, just to keep the fishing industry happy?”