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Government Hastening Dolphins’ Demise Prompts Activists

3 March 2014

Government Hastening Dolphins’ Demise Prompts Activists at Auckland Council

Conservation activists will attend the Auckland Council Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage Committee meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 4 March) in support of Maui’s Dolphins, as the Committee considers reports showing the Government is undermining the dolphins’ protection.

Maui’s dolphins are the world’s rarest and smallest marine dolphin, found only on the North Island’s West Coast. From a 1970s population of about 1000, only around 55 remain. The Government’s expert panel on Maui’s dolphins agree that they can only sustain one human induced death in 10-23 years if the species is to survive. Despite that, a current rate of about five dolphins are dying, mainly in nets, every year.

The Auckland Council Environment committee agenda reports on Government proposals to reduce current protection in the dolphins’ habitat, through reintroduction of ring netting inside the Manukau Harbour – an area previously protected since 2003.

Maui’s & Hector’s Education/Action Inc Chairperson Christine Rose, says the Government are ‘giving up on Maui’s dolphins’. “In fact, they appear to be trying to hasten their demise – allowing indiscriminate, high risk netting back into their habitat”. “This is on top of allowing seismic testing and trawling in existing parts of the dolphin domain”.

Activists from Maui’s & Hector’s Education/Action Inc are converging on the Committee meeting to support the Council taking a strong stand against any measures that increase risk of harm to the dolphins.

The Auckland Council Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage Committee meeting convenes at 9.30 am in the L2 Reception Lounge, Town Hall, Queen Street. http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2014/03/ENV_20140305_AGN_4781_AT_WEB.HTM

Maui’s dolphins are a small, slow breeding endemic dolphin found only on the West Coast of the North Island. Recent studies show a population as low as around 55 adults and only 20 breeding females, from about 1000 in the 1970s. As a small inshore dolphin they are vulnerable to a range of human threats, with 80% of deaths from set or gill nets. Seismic testing, pollution and boat strike are other risks.

ENDS

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