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Intransigent Industry Drives Dolphins To Death

Intransigent Fishing Industry Drives Hector's Abd Maui's Dolphins To Extinction

Conservation group Care for the Wild International (CWI) says that urgent action needs to be taken now to protect New Zealand’s Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins from commercial and recreational fishing; if not these endangered dolphins will soon become extinct.

CWI’s Chief Executive Dr Barbara Maas says, “Gill netting and trawling have pushed the Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins to the brink of extinction. Numerous sources support this view including research, government reports and the World Conservation Union’s International Red List of Endangered Species. It is a fact that Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are not only the world’s rarest, but one of the best studied cetaceans.”

According to a recent NIWA Report, between 110 and 150 Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins die in commercial gillnets each year.[1] But CWI say that the NIWA report underestimates the number of dolphins killed because trawling and recreational gillnetting aren’t included.

CWI is a wildlife charity that promotes the conservation and welfare of wild animals around the world through direct projects, education, research and science-based advocacy.

“An annual death toll of up to 150 Hector’s dolphins is clearly unsustainable given that the species can only absorb 10 deaths a year from any cause. What’s required is that the same leadership, commitment and determination shown by New Zealandtowards protecting the world’s whales is applied to Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins. Like whales, dolphins are cetaceans too,” Dr Maas says.

Standing in the way is an intransigent fishing industry which denies that Hector’s dolphins are endangered and that their populations are declining, denies that entanglement in set nets is the biggest threat to Maui’s dolphins and trawling a serious threat, denies that 60% of Hector’s dolphins deaths are caused by fishing, and claims that there is no justification for additional protection measures.[2]

Dr Maas says, “This is a typical industry response. The Seafood Industry Council fought against the current regulatory regime. It even took the Government to court and lost, but continues to oppose any actions that would help to ensure the dolphins’ survival. The fishing industry is clearly putting its commercial interests first despite the weight of scientific evidence to the contrary.

CWI says that 24 years of research have created a wealth of compelling evidence and produced more than 140 published and peer-reviewed scientific papers on the dolphin’s ecology, population biology and threats.

“All the studies are consistent; there is no scientific disagreement. We know that the Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin populations have been severely depleted since the early 1970s due to gillnetting, and that trawling poses an additional risk. All risk analyses carried out for the species to date by university scientists, government agencies, fishing industry representatives and the recent NIWA Report predict continued population decline to 5,631 animals if the status quo is maintained, and recovery from less than 8,000 individuals now, to some 15,000 in 50 years’ time, if fishing impacts are removed.

“These are shocking figures for any species. They are real, despite vociferous claims to the contrary by detractors with vested interests, and leave no margin for error.

“New Zealandhas been longstanding advocate on behalf of the world’s whales at the International Whaling Commission. The case to provide the same protection for these highly imperilled dolphins as the New Zealand Government seeks to secure for the world’s great whales is overwhelming. It would be inconsistent and illogical to apply any less a determination and commitment to protecting Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, which are only found in New Zealand,” Dr Maas said.

[1]Davies N., Bian R., Starr P., Lallemand P., Gilbert D. & McKenzie J 2008 Risk analysis of Hector’s dolphin and Maui’s dolphin subpopulations to commercial set net fishing using a temporal-spatial age-structured model. NIWA, www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Consultations/Hector+new/default.htm

2SeaFIC 2007 Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin TMP Submission http://www.seafood.co.nz/tmpsubmission


For further information, please contact:
Dr Barbara Maas Tel: 021 207 6664 Mobile
Chief Executive
Care for the Wild International CWI)

Notes to editors:
1. Care for the Wild International (CWI)
CWI is a conservation and animal welfare charity that funds practical projects around the world. We make areas safe from poachers, rehabilitate sick or injured animals and provide sanctuary for those who can not return to the wild.
We also act as a global voice for wildlife through research, education and advocacy, and expose animal cruelty and wildlife crime.

2. Hector’s Dolphins Facts
 Hector’s dolphins are classified as Endangered by the Red List of Endangered Species. This means that Hector’s are “facing a high risk of extinction in the near future”.
 Numbers have declined from 21,000-29,000 in the 1970s to less than 8,000 today.
 Commercial and recreational fishing is responsible for almost 70% of Hector’s dolphin deaths. Because not all deaths are reported, this is a minimum estimate.
 Other threats include boat strikes, pollution, sand-mining, coastal development and harassment.
 Existing protection measures have failed to halt the species decline. Hector’s dolphins will only be safe into the future if all threats of commercial and recreational fishing are removed.

3. Maui’s Dolphins Facts
 Maui’s dolphins are classified as Critically Endangered by the Red List of Endangered Species. This means that Maui’s dolphins are “facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future”.
 Only 111 Maui’s dolphins survive.
 There are just 25 breeding females left amongst about 60 breeding adults.
 Females only have one calf every 2-4 years and do not reach breeding age until they are 7-9 years old. These species’ potential for recovery is therefore extremely slow.
 Maui’s dolphins prefer shallow waters up to 100m deep and are therefore highly vulnerable to nets.

4. Images and footage
Images and footage is available at www.careforthewild.com/files/pictures13


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