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New marine mammal sanctuaries to protect dolphins

Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Conservation

25 September 2008 Media Release

New marine mammal sanctuaries to protect dolphins

Four new marine mammal sanctuaries will increase protection for the unique Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins and have been formally declared today by Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick.

“Hector’s dolphins are very special creatures – they are the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin and are only found in New Zealand – so I am very pleased to announce that the final notices of the marine mammal sanctuaries have been notified in the New Zealand Gazette today,” Steve Chadwick said.

“This is the result of extensive consultation with iwi, recreational and commercial fishers, scientists, conservation groups, the tourism industry and the general public.”

The new sanctuaries are in some of the areas where the nationally critically endangered Maui’s dolphins and the nationally endangered Hector’s dolphins spend most of their time - West Coast of the North Island, Clifford and Cloudy Bay in Marlborough, Porpoise Bay/Fortrose on the Catlins Coast, and Te Waewae Bay on the South Coast. Changes to the boundaries of the existing sanctuary at Banks Peninsula have also been notified.

“The new sanctuaries will be part of the Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan, jointly developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Ministry of Fisheries, which aims to halt the decline and aid the recovery of these precious dolphins.

“The draft plan sets an international benchmark in managing risks to marine mammals. The protection offered by these new sanctuaries is complemented by the fishing measures being introduced by the Minister of Fisheries.”

To increase the protection of these endangered dolphins, mining and acoustic seismic surveying restrictions apply in the sanctuaries. All methods of fishing are allowed within the sanctuaries, other than those prohibited under fisheries legislation.

“Hector’s and Maui’s are national treasures and we are very lucky to have them in our waters – we are the guardians of our children’s heritage and we want to do ensure these beautiful mammals do not become extinct.”

The sanctuary proposals were first announced during the draft Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan consultation in August 2007. All new and changed marine mammal sanctuaries have been supported by the Ministers of Energy, Fisheries and Transport. The new sanctuaries and the variations to the Banks Peninsula Sanctuary will come into effect on 23 October 2008.

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