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Govt opens Maui’s dolphin habitat for petroleum exploration

17 June 2014

Govt opening up Maui’s dolphin habitat for petroleum exploration

The situation for New Zealand’s highly endangered Maui’s dolphin is dire, and the Government is making it worse by opening up more of their habitat to petroleum exploration and drilling, the Green Party said today.

The Green Party obtained documents under the Official Information Act which reveal that the Government included over 3,000 km2 of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary in the competitive tender for petroleum exploration permits, known as Block Offer 2014. The West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary was established in 2008 as a part of the Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin Threat Management Plan.

“The International Whaling Commission is calling for even greater protections for Maui’s dolphins, this National Government is putting these beautiful dolphins at greater risk of extinction,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

Just last week the International Whaling Commission (IWC) published a report that concludes that Nationals’ piecemeal management changes are inadequate to stop Maui’s extinction saying, “current management situation falls short of that required to reverse the Maui’s decline.”

“Maui’s dolphins – the world’s most endangered dolphin – are only found in New Zealand, and this National Government is driving them to extinction,” said Dr Norman.

“If National was serious about protecting Maui’s dolphins it wouldn’t allow more oil exploration in the part of the ocean where they live.

“The Government should stop putting the short-term interest of a few mining companies ahead of the thousands and thousands of New Zealanders who love and want to protect the endangered Maui’s dolphin.

“Expert scientists say that seismic surveys, which are part of petroleum exploration, can harm dolphins’ hearing and may push them into unprotected areas where they are more exposed to fishing nets.

“Furthermore, exploratory drilling is the riskiest phase of oil production and an oil spill could wipe out the last 55 Maui’s left.

“Now the biggest threat to Maui’s dolphins is inaction by the National Government,” Dr Norman said.

The Green Party in Government would protect the Maui’s dolphin by:
• Making the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary a proper sanctuary by putting a stop to petroleum exploration and dolphin-lethal fishing methods within its boundaries;
• Working with the fishing industry to transition away from unsustainable indiscriminate fishing methods; and
• Progressively extending protection wherever Maui’s dolphins swim, in line with recommendations from the IWC.

References:
Official Information Act request showing over 3,000km2 of offshore conservation area is in Block Offer 2014: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/51684516/03062014172559-0001.pdf

Map showing overlap:
https://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/2014_block_offer_and_marine_protected_area_overlap_closeup_5.pdf

ENDS

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