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Govt ignores sightings, puts Maui’s at risk of extinction

Govt ignores sightings, puts Maui’s at risk of extinction

The Government is putting Maui’s dolphin at risk of extinction by ignoring scientific evidence of their range and what protection is needed to save them according to a WWF paper presented to the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee that is currently meeting in Slovenia.

“There is no protection for Maui’s dolphins in a number of areas where by the Government’s own standard there have been several reliable sightings, said WWF Marine Advocate, Milena Palka.

“They are taking an inconsistent approach which ignores the scientific evidence of what is needed to save Maui’s dolphins from extinction.

Global conservation organization WWF has submitted a paper on “Addressing gaps in management approach and protection of the world’s rarest marine dolphin” to the International Whaling Scientific Committee. It has been considered at the Committee’s 65th meeting which is taking place in Slovenia until 24 May.

This paper highlights that the Government has extended protection on the basis of some sightings but has left other areas unprotected where there have been equally credible sightings.

“The Government needs to extend protection for Maui’s across their habitat to the areas where they have ignored reliable sightings; including within harbours, beyond 7 nautical miles, and further to the south down to Whanganui river as the best scientific evidence shows this is the extent of their current range, said Ms Palka.

“Estimates indicate there are only about 55 Maui’s left. Their survival is on the line. We need to do everything we can to protect them, they are right on the edge and the world is watching.

The IWC Scientific Committee will prepare a report that will be formally submitted to the International Whaling Commission at its meeting in Slovenia from 11 to 14 September this year.

“WWF also supports providing assistance to fishing communities to help them transition to dolphin-friendly practices, the Government needs to stop blaming fishers for their failure to protect Maui’s,” added Ms Palka.

Liz Slooton also submitted a paper to the IWC scientific committee on the Effectiveness of extensions to protected areas for Maui’s dolphins in 2012 and 2013. That shows the protection measures announced last year would at best reduce estimated Maui’s bycatch from 5 to 3 dolphins per year but would be enough to avoid continued population decline.

“The science shows that we can only afford one human-induced Maui’s death every 10 to 23 years. Both these papers show that the Government’s limited protection measures will only delay a Maui’s extinction not stop it.” added Ms Palka.


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