Maui’s proposal ‘step in right direction’
Maui’s proposal ‘step in right direction’ but more needed for world’s rarest marine dolphins to survive, WWF
(Wellington, 6 September 2013) The Conservation Minister’s proposal to increase protection for Maui’s dolphins by 350 square kilometres is “a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough to save Maui’s dolphins,” says global conservation organisation WWF.
“There are just 55 Maui’s dolphins left and the science shows that they need to be protected throughout their entire range to survive,” said Chris Howe WWF-New Zealand Executive Director.
“While we support the Minister’s proposal to increase protection for Maui’s, the consultation period marks yet another delay. Instead of a proposal, we believe the government should act to protect Maui’s immediately. The reality is that despite the Minister’s words today, Maui’s are still at risk from being caught in fishing nets. For a species on the brink of extinction, that’s not acceptable.”
Maui’s live only along the west coast of the North Island and just 55 individuals over the age of one are estimated to survive. Net fishing, the biggest threat to their survival, is only banned in some parts of their range.
“We are encouraged that the Minister acknowledged that the Government has a huge duty to ensure the survival of Maui’s dolphins, and we agree. As he pointed out, since 2000, there have been more dolphins killed in fishing nets than the species can sustain,” said Mr Howe.
Public opinion research earlier this year found that the majority of New Zealanders want Maui’s dolphins protected throughout their range. The Colmar Brunton polling revealed that 77 per cent of people support an expansion of the ban, 14 per cent did not know, and just 9 per cent were opposed to expanding the ban.
“The majority of New Zealanders care about the
future of our dolphins and we encourage people to speak out
and make their views known during the consultation
period,” said Mr Howe.
WWF believes that a genuine and comprehensive sanctuary, prohibiting harmful fishing practices and placing a moratorium on risky marine mining activities, from Maunganui Bluff to the Whanganui river mouth, including harbours, out to 100 metres deep is needed to save the species.
Over 70,000 submissions were received by government for the Threat Management Plan Review by November 2012, the vast majority of which were in favour of increased protection for Maui’s. More than 30,000 emails from WWF supporters in New Zealand and around the world were sent directly to PM John Key urging him to save the sub-species.
Mr Howe continued: “We need to come together as a nation to save our precious Maui’s dolphins. It is high time that the government and the seafood industry council stepped up to help support the affected fishermen.
“The Government should listen to the majority of New Zealanders – and many concerned people around the world - who care about the survival of Maui’s, and their South Island relative Hector’s. By introducing full protection measures for our treasured dolphins we can help place the species on the path to recovery rather than witnessing them slip away forever.”
WWF is also encouraging people who live along Maui’s dolphins’ range to call its public sightings hotline, 0800 4 Mauis, if they see a Maui’s dolphin.
Notes to editors
The research was conducted by Colmar Brunton on 16th to 23rd Jan in an Omnijet online survey of 1,053 New Zealanders aged 18 and over. The maximum margin of error for the total sample size is +/- 3.0% (at the 95% confidence level).