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Carcass Discovery Raises Risk Of Extinction

The discovery of a dead North Island Hector’s dolphin at Port of Waikato increases the urgent need for their protection, says WWF.

The discovery was reported by a member of the public through WWF’s Sightings and Strandings Network (www.hectorsdolphin.org.nz) over the weekend.

“There may be just 100 NI Hector’s dolphins left in the world - they are critically endangered. Even one accidental death annually could drive them to extinction”, says WWF New Zealand Chief Executive Jo Breese. “This is the third recorded death of a NI Hector’s dolphin this year.”

Preliminary necropsy results indicate that the young male dolphin died suddenly through trauma. There are also skin marks suggestive of entanglement.

“This leads WWF to believe that the dolphin was trapped in a net”, says Jo Breese.

“WWF repeats its call for a year-round ban on set netting from Maunganui Bluff to Pariokariwa Point. We urge the government to fast track plans to protect the dolphins.”

“There are four genetically distinct species of Hector’s dolphin in New Zealand, and they are all endangered. It is time for the government to develop an integrated approach to their protection, and to instigate a species recovery programme.”

“Today is the closing date for submissions on protection of the South Island Hector’s dolphin, and there is also a management plan pending to protect North Island Hector’s dolphin. This is the perfect time to act for their protection”, says Jo Breese.

ENDS

Facts

- There could be just 100 North Island Hector’s dolphins left.

- Even one accidental death each year could drive NI Hector’s dolphins to extinction.

- This is the third NI Hector’s dolphin death this year.

- They live between New Plymouth and Dargaville on the West Coast of the North Island, mainly in shallow waters around river mouths.

- Their presence in shallow waters makes them exceptionally vulnerable to capture in set nets, both recreational and commercial.

- There is currently a ban on recreational set netting around Banks Peninsula to protect the Hector’s dolphins in that area. There is no similar protection in place for the even rarer North Island Hector’s dolphin.

- After a workshop instigated by WWF last year (supported by DOC and SEAFIC), the Ministry of Fisheries began a consultation process leading to a proposed management plan to protect NI Hector’s dolphins. This is still under consideration by government.

Ends


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