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Green Party launches plan to protect our Maui’s dolphins

Green Party launches plan to protect our Maui’s dolphins

The Green Party today launched its plan to protect the world’s smallest and most endangered dolphin, the Maui’s dolphin.

The plan is the third component of the Party’s environmental priority this election: clean rivers and beaches.

The key policy points in the Green Party’s plan to save the Maui’s dolphin are:
1. Protect Maui’s from being killed in the sanctuary set up to protect them. We will prohibit fishing methods lethal to Maui’s, new oil and gas exploration, and mineral mining, throughout the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

2. Extend fishing protections (prohibit lethal set nets and trawl nets) to the entire Maui’s range, as recommended by expert scientists. The International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Society for Marine Mammology, have all called for set nets and trawl nets to be prohibited throughout the Maui’s dolphins range. Experts define the Maui’s range as being on the West Coast of the North Island from Maunganui Bluff to the Whanganui River, out to the 100 metre depth contour, including harbours.

3. Help protect the livelihoods of affected fishers by supporting them to adopt dolphin-safe fishing methods. In recognition of the hardship that fishers will face as a result of the new fishing rules, the Green Party will spend up to $20 million over three years to help them. The money will be spent in consultation with the affected fishers but it is anticipated that the money will be used as transitional support to alternative dolphin-friendly fishing gear, including support for technology-led research and appropriate permitting.

“New Zealanders love our Maui’s dolphin, and the Green Party has a plan to save it,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“Scientists estimate that there are only 55 adult Maui’s dolphin left in the world, and they need our protection in order to survive. Sadly, National’s policies are driving the Maui’s to extinction.

“Activities allowed in National’s sham Maui’s sanctuary will actually drive this endangered dolphin to extinction.

“National’s sham sanctuary allows dangerous oil drilling, seismic surveying, seabed mining, and fishing methods which are lethal to Maui’s dolphins. It’s closer to a slaughter house than a safe house.

“Scientists across the world are united in their call for much greater protections for Maui’s dolphins than National is offering, but National is prioritising oil drilling and mining over Maui’s protection.

“In 2013, the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Society for Marine Mammology, all called for greater protections for Maui’s dolphin, but the Government largely ignored their advice.

“We will prohibit new oil drilling and seabed mining in the Maui’s sanctuary.

“The Department of Conservation has said the detrimental effects of seabed mining could be significant. It’s not worth the risk, so we will stop it from happening in the Maui’s sanctuary.

“The seismic survey phase of oil exploration is particularly dangerous to Maui’s. The world’s leading expert on how marine life is affected by seismic surveys, Dr Lindy Weilgart, has said ‘Seismic surveys can cause dolphins to avoid important habitat, can interfere with their food-finding, reproduction, resting, and hearing sounds vital to their survival, and can cause stress effects.’

“We will also stop fishing practices in the Maui’s habitat that are lethal to them, while investing up to $20 million into the local fishing community to assist fishers to transition to new dolphin-safe fishing methods.

“According to the Government’s own figures the annual revenue lost by closing these fisheries is only $13.5 million per year, which is less than one percent of New Zealand’s $1.5 billion annual seafood exports.

“We can have safe fishing and a thriving Maui’s population if we take the necessary steps now.

“We will help local fishers, while saving the Maui’s dolphin.

“The Green Party knows the Maui’s are worth protecting, for our environment, economy and national identity,” said Mrs Turei.

Mrs Turei said that in the run up to the election, the Green Party would announce further policy in its three priorities area: 1) rivers clean enough to swim in again, and beaches safe from oil spills, 2) ensuring every child has enough to thrive; and 3) a smarter greener economy that benefits every New Zealander.



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