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Conservation Groups Call for Immediate Action - Letter to PM

Conservation Groups Call for Immediate Action
to Save New Zealand’s Imperilled Dolphins

Prime Minister Key Asked to Act Urgently

3 April 2012

Over a dozen non-governmental organizations have requested that Prime Minister John Key take immediate action to protect Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins in a letter hand-delivered to him today.

Among the NGOs imploring the government to act are organizations which are part of the Whales Need US coalition – a collection of US-based organizations that are dedicated to cetacean protection. Though typically, focused on US issues, WNUS has joined forces with NABU International, Earth Race Conservation, and other New Zealand conservation organizations seeking protection for New Zealand’s imperilled dolphins.

New Zealand’s Maui’s dolphins, the most endangered of all marine cetaceans (whales and dolphins), are an important symbolic species. Maui’s dolphins represent a tiny remnant population, which is genetically unique and critically endangered with as few as 55 animals remaining.

“The plight of the Maui’s dolphins is alarming and New Zealand must act now to eliminate the threats to these important populations,” states D.J. Schubert, Chair of WNUS. “National and international NGOs are cooperating to raise the plight of these species to the public and need public support – and government action – to save these species.”

The groups are asking members of the public to visit www.hectorsdolphins.com to find out how they can help.

Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are primarily threatened by lethal bycatch in trawl and gill nets. Though there are other factors, including habitat degradation, that imperil the species, it is imperative that the use of trawl and gill nets in the habitat of these dolphin populations be prohibited if these dolphins are to have any chance of survival.

“We are grateful for the support for this species from across the world,” say Dr. Barbara Maas of NABU International. “New Zealand has a reputation as a leader in cetacean conservation, biodiversity protection, and sustainability. Now it is time for the government to reaffirm its commitment to its only endemic dolphin or risk its credibility.”

”For the government to continue to allow these dolphins to fade away into extinction is entirely unacceptable to the people of New Zealand and the world,” adds Ria Kemp a marine mammal medic in New Zealand. Furthermore, considering the cultural significance of these dolphins in Maori culture, not acting to save these animals would be disrespectful to Maori.

Improved global cooperation for the conservation of cetaceans is imperative to ensure their survival, which is critical to restoring the health of the world’s oceans. After hundreds of years of exploitation, cetacean populations remain at risk from hunting, ship
strikes, marine pollution, underwater noise, climate change, by-catch and entanglements.

----------------------
Copy of the letter:http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1204/NGO_Letter.pdf

ENDS

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