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NZers asked to help Stop Dolphin Extinction

Friday 21 September 2007

New Zealanders asked to help Stop Dolphin Extinction

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Victoria University students at Oriental Parade - Image Aliscia Young

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WWF-New Zealand is calling on New Zealanders to help save Hector's and Maui's dolphins from extinction by backing their online petition at www.stoptheirextinction.org.nz

The global conservation organisation is today launching the Stop Their Extinction campaign asking kiwis to seize this unique opportunity to save Hector's and Maui's dolphins, which only live in New Zealand, by signing the petition by 22 October 2007.

Chris Howe, WWF-New Zealand Executive Director explains the need for urgency: "Right now, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tell the government that as a nation we want them to save Hector's and Maui's from extinction.

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Hector's dolphin - Image Will Rayment

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"After three years of delays, the New Zealand government finally released its draft threat management plan for Hector's and Maui's dolphins, and New Zealanders now have one month to have their say. As it stands, the plan is simply not enough to save the dolphins. We are facing a fork in the road for Hector's and Maui's, and that's why we are calling on all New Zealanders to go online now and sign the petition at www.stoptheirextinction.org.nz. We will present the petition to Helen Clark to show her it's the will of the nation to save our dolphins."

Without total protection, Maui's could be extinct within a generation: "Years of human activity have pushed Maui's to the brink. Now, the situation is so critical that only by removing all human threats will we stop their extinction." But in a worrying move, even the strongest of the three options in the government's draft threat management plan falls well short of what WWF and Hector's dolphin scientists believe is necessary to save the dolphins from extinction, and allow them to recover.

"The strongest option - option three - is the only one worth considering, but still does not go far enough to give Hector's and Maui's dolphins a chance of long term survival and recovery. Maui's dolphins are already on the verge of extinction. With such a tiny fragile population, the only way we can give them the best chance of survival is to remove all human threats to their existence. We urge everyone who cares for the future of Hector's and Maui's dolphins to sign our online petition at www.stoptheirextinction.org.nz."

Stop Their Extinction launches today (Friday 21 September) with a national day of action, when teams of WWF volunteers and students from university environmental campaign network SANE (Students of Aotearoa Network for our Earth) will take to the streets in Auckland, Dunedin, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington asking New Zealanders to sign the Stop Their Extinction petition.

Marie Haley, Marine Coordinator for SANE said: "This is our opportunity to tell the government what we want for Hector's and Maui's. So, it's in our hands - right now we all have a chance to stop our dolphins from becoming extinct, which is incredible. Would we as a nation say no to the protection of the kiwi or the kakapo?

We're just asking New Zealanders to come together and do the right thing in speaking out for our dolphins. The consultation period ends in a month, so the dolphins are facing a real deadline. That's why it's so urgent and why we hope that on Friday we get the support of as many people as possible."

Stop Their Extinction activities are happening across the country, in Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Kaikoura and Akaroa on Friday 21 September, with petition stands on the streets and university campuses.

"Our message to New Zealanders is simple - if you want to stop Hector's and Maui's from becoming extinct, sign the petition. Every person's voice counts." states Marie.

The campaign is being backed by six of New Zealand's leading illustrators who have each created an individual compelling Stop Their Extinction illustration. Ranging from the dark graphic novel style of Blair Sayer - a menacing hand reaching to grasp a dolphin - to the bold and vibrant expressionistic illustration from Ali Teo - a leaping dolphin graphic against a background of native foliage - the illustrations each send a powerful message to the New Zealand public to join the battle for Hector's and Maui's and help Stop Their Extinction. A month-long national campaign will see the illustrations go nationwide across posters, postcards, outdoor ads and billboards and online.

Along with the illustrators themselves - Stephen Fuller, Dean Proudfoot (Watermark), Blair Sayer, Simon Shaw (Watermark), Stephen Templar and Ali Teo - the campaign has been made possible thanks to donations and support of all kinds from a diverse range of partners, led by Ocean Design.

Blair Manwairing, co-owner of Ocean Design and creative director of the Stop Their Extincion campaign explains why the cause has gathered such broad support: "The fate of the smallest and rarest marine dolphins in the world has really touched us. The tragic thing is simply how little action there has been from the government to try and save the Maui's and Hector's dolphins from extinction. This really is our last chance to help. That's why we've worked with WWF and a range of creative people and companies, who have all opened their hearts and their wallets to create and support this campaign. It's been a massive undertaking, and while we are very proud of the part we've played, it simply had to be done."

Illustrator Ali Teo added: "I have complete support for the campaign. I feel very strongly about the way humanity treats the marine environment - like it is some endless resource we can just keep on taking from, and at the same time a dumping ground where we can get rid of anything we don't want. Of course it's obvious that Hector's and Maui's dolphins should be saved if for no other reason than they have every right to live. But also I think they are a very visible symbol that enable all other issues surrounding the way we treat our oceans to be brought to light, and for that reason too, preventing their extinction is important."


Notes to editors Stop Their Extinction

* Stop Their Extinction illustrations will be run across a national poster and postcard campaign from 21 September, thanks to donations from Spicers Paper, GEON Group, Colourcraft and Phantom Billboards and the illustrators themselves. * Interislander has donated space in its terminals and ferries carrying 30 A0 posters. * Adshel and Oggi have donated advertising space in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

* The campaign website www.stoptheirextinction.org.nz and banner ads were created by Salted Herring in partnership with Thinkbox * Banner ads running on stuff.co.nz are thanks to donations of media space from Fairfax Media.

* WWF thanks all of the above partners along with DPOD Ltd, Ocean Design, SANE, Saatchi & Saatchi, Starcom and The PR Department who have all made this campaign possible. About Hector's and Maui's dolphin * Hector's and Maui's dolphins are found only in New Zealand. They are closely related - in fact Maui's dolphin is a sub-species of Hector's dolphin.

* Today, there are just over 7,000 Hector's dolphin left, down from over 26,000 in 1970, and they are endangered. Maui's dolphin is regarded as critically endangered, with just 111 animals left. * The once wide-ranging Hector's dolphins are increasingly scarce around the coast of the South Island, and Maui's are found only on the West Coast of the North Island.


* Hector's and Maui's dolphins have a rounded, "Mickey Mouse-ear" shaped dorsal fin, and are around 1.4m long when fully grown. They breed slowly, the females producing just a handful of calves during their lifetimes. * Hector's and Maui's dolphins are seriously threatened. Every year more than 100 die from either being caught in, or affected in some other way by, fishing nets.

* If action is not taken to protect them, they could become effectively extinct - meaning that even though there are still dolphins living around New Zealand, there are so few of them, in small isolated groups, that they cannot find mates and breed.

Maui's dolphins are already on the verge of extinction. With such a tiny fragile population, the only way we can give them the best chance of survival is to remove all human-threats to their existence.

About the petition WWF's petition calls for the government to: * Implement an effective action plan for the recovery of the species * Introduce a total ban on set nets within New Zealand territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles)

* Introduce a total ban on trawling in nearshore waters shallower than 100 meters in depth

* Identify, manage and mitigate all other potential threats to Hector's and Maui's to ensure their future survival and recovery For more information, and to sign WWF's petition go to www.stoptheirextinction.org.nz

ENDS


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