The New Zealand Government must act to protect our dolphins after a new scientific report to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) says that twenty times more New Zealand dolphins are killed by the NZ fishing industry than the public is being told about. In addition the IWC has criticized the New Zealand Government for failing to act to protect critically endangered Maui dolphins.

“Once again the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and other government agencies have been found to be systematically underreporting the damage that the NZ fishing industry is doing to our oceans,” says Russel Norman, executive director of Greenpeace.

The independent report by scientists from the University of Otago Zoology Department and Marine Science Department paints a damning picture of dolphin by-catch and under-reporting.

“It’s no wonder some of our dolphins are threatened with extinction, when the Government responsible for looking after them is dramatically underreporting deaths to the International Whaling Commission,” says Norman.

The report found that for the years 2000 to 2006 there were 48 reported deaths of NZ dolphins in nets, but that the real number was up to 1050. The evidence suggests the underreporting of dolphin catch is even greater than the fisheries underreporting in New Zealand identified in the recent University of British Columbia catch reconstruction report.”

“How many damning scientific reports do we need to see before the government agency actually does something,” asks Norman. “Protecting New Zealand dolphins from extinction is part of what it means to love this country. We market this country on swimming with dolphins. A dolphin death cover up of this scale could cause massive damage to our international reputation, and to New Zealand as a tourist destination.”