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Historic day for one of the world’s rarest dolphin

Historic day for one of the world’s rarest dolphins

The new protection measures for Maui’s dolphin announced today are a huge success for all New Zealanders concerned with preserving our unique marine life, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said.

“Maui’s dolphin is one of four mammals found only in New Zealand. It is one of the world’s rarest dolphins making it is as precious a part of our natural heritage as the black robin or the kakapo.

“I congratulate Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson on his decision to offer Maui's dolphin protection by banning set nets in key areas along the upper west coast of the North Island where we know Maui’s dolphin lives,” Mr Carter said.

“Set nets have been a menace for this dolphin. I hope we will see a gradual increase in its numbers now that threat has been removed from its key habitats. We certainly need a boost in numbers because less than 150 of Maui’s dolphins remain. "

Mr Carter said there was still a great deal to be learned about Maui's dolphin. The Department of Conservation would continue researching the dolphin's behaviour with a view to determining whether further measures were needed to increase its numbers.

Efforts were already underway to find out if Maui’s dolphins were entering North Island west coast harbours other than the Manukau.

A research programme was also being worked on to examine whether trawling and Danish seine fishing posed a threat to the dolphins.

“This work will continue but today’s decision should be celebrated, Mr Carter said.

"It is a culmination of years of effort by conservationists, researchers, tangata whenua and members of the fishing industry who have all been striving in their own way to save Maui’s dolphin," Mr Carter said.

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