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No Protection From Trawling For Maui’s Dolphin

Press Release 24 January 2003

No Protection From Trawling For Maui’s Dolphin

WWF congratulates the Minister of Fisheries on new protection measures for Maui’s dolphin but further calls for protection of the critically endangered dolphin from trawl fishing in the North Island’s upper west coast. This call follows the release of Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson’s decision to ban set nets in parts of this area.

Maui’s dolphins are the world’s smallest, rarest marine dolphin. In the last two years, six Maui’s dolphins have been found dead, with at least four deaths known to be caused by fishing. WWF is committed to help the species recover to viable population levels.

“WWF welcomes the restriction on commercial and recreational set netting, however, the measures should go further”, says WWF Chief Executive Jo Breese. “We believe that trawling within the dolphins range needs to be banned. We have been assured that fishers do not trawl within the dolphin’s range; however, sightings show this to be untrue. Therefore we must act as decisively as possible to save this species from extinction.”

“We also welcome set netting restrictions into Manukau Harbour. However, there is a need to extend protection to all West Coast harbours, not just the Manukau as Maui’s dolphins have been sighted in harbours”, says Ms Breese.

“WWF calls for decisive enforcement of the set net ban and a commitment to raise public awareness for the plight of the Maui’s dolphin. This dolphin will quickly disappear off the face of the Earth if New Zealanders don’t take urgent action to protect it”, says Jo Breese. “WWF continues its commitment to raise awareness of Maui’s dolphins in the North Island and calls upon the public to use the WWF sightings and stranding network.”

“WWF is disappointed to see that yet again government has not indicated what steps will be taken if a dead Maui’s dolphin is found on the beach”, says Ms Breese. “We need clear guidelines that outline what action will be taken if this does happen.”

“We can’t afford to delay or argue the fine points anymore”, says Jo Breese. “The new set netting ban should be extended to include all harbours; trawling must likewise be banned as soon as possible, and a full species recovery programme should be implemented. Only measures such as these will give the Maui’s dolphin a chance of survival.”



- WWF has established the WWF Sightings and Strandings Network, with its free-phone number 0800 HECTORS, especially to encourage people to report sightings of the Maui’s dolphin.
- Maui’s dolphin used to be known as the North Island Hector’s dolphin.
- Maui’s dolphin is the world’s rarest, smallest marine dolphin.
- They are critically endangered, with a population of between 70-100.
- They live in shallow waters off the north-west coast of the North Island between Dargaville and New Plymouth.
- The primary threat to Maui’s dolphins is from set-netting, both recreational and commercial. Trawling is also a threat.
- Six dolphins have been found dead as a result of set-netting in the past two years.
- Recreational set-netting has been banned within much of the dolphin’s range, but this is poorly enforced.
- Commercial set-netting was previously banned in August 2001, but this ban was overturned by Northern Inshore Fisheries, in a High Court judicial review in March 2002.

For further information contact:
Caren Schröder, Marine Conservation Officer, WWF New Zealand
Tel: (04) 499-2930 Fax: (04) 499-2954 Email: caren.schroder@wwf.org.nz

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