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Dolphins on the Agenda at Council Meeting

Dolphins on the Agenda at Council Meeting

Council meetings are sometimes known for their theatrics, but this week it’s musical entertainment and dolphins creating a carnival-like atmosphere at the meeting of the Auckland Council’s Regional Development and Operations committee as it considers its submission to the Government’s Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan.

Maui’s dolphins are the world’s rarest and smallest marine dolphin, found only in New Zealand’s western coastal waters. Conservationists also say they’re the loveliest with their small size and black and grey colouring, and their ‘Mickey Mouse ear shaped dorsal fin’.

Maui’s numbers have plummeted from around 1000 in the 1970s to only 55 adults today. Scientists have shown the decline in numbers is due to entrapment in recreational and commercial gill nets. But they also say it’s not too late to save the species. Research has shown that Maui’s dolphins can only sustain one death within a 10-23 year time frame, but the population could recover if human induced threats were removed from the dolphin habitat, and gill-netting is their greatest threat.

Despite this, New Zealand was the only vote against protection within 100m depth contour for the dolphins at the meeting of the IUCN in Korea last month.

Dolphin advocates are calling for a permanent ban of gill-netting in the dolphin habitat (including Harbours), plus protection of the dolphin corridors allowing safe movement of Maui’s & their endangered cousins, Hector’s dolphins between the North and South Islands.

At this week’s Regional Development and Operations committee meeting Kiwi pop starlet Jamie McDell, who is signed to EMI and touted as “NZ’s answer to Taylor Swift” will be performing a song she penned for the dolphins; and advocates promise dolphins will also be making an appearance.

Maui’s dolphins are critically endangered and found only on the West Coast of the North Island. The Government is reviewing protection for the dolphins after a spate of deaths in the wider West Coast area in recent months. Earlier this year the Government implemented interim emergency protection measures which are currently being reviewed at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-resources/publications.aspx

The Regional Development and Operations Committee Meeting will start with the song by Jamie McDell at 10 am, Town Hall, Auckland.
View Jamie’s dolphin song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4DN3uuibfw

Submissions on the Maui’s Dolphins Threat Management Plan are due to the Ministry of primary Industries and Department of Conservation at MauiTMP@govt.nz and MauiTMP@doc.govt by Nov 12.

ENDS

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