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Forest & Bird says threat plan fails Maui’s dolphins

Forest & Bird says threat plan fails Maui’s dolphins

Forest & Bird welcomes the consultation paper from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Department of Conservation yesterday afternoon on Maui’s dolphins but believes the proposed options fail to protect critically endangered Maui’s dolphins.

Maui’s dolphins are the smallest and rarest in the world. It is estimated that just 55 Maui’s dolphins older than one year remain.

“The reviewed threat management plan for Maui’s dolphins identifies fishing-related threats are still the number one threat to the survival of the dolphins,” Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Katrina Subedar says. “The management of fishing-related threats is still the most critical.”

Options from MPI do not adequately remove fishing threats from all the areas where these dolphins are found. Scientists have estimated that only one dolphin can die from a human-related death every 10-23 years without affecting the survival of the species. “We have already had one death in January. Given the few remaining Maui’s left, we can’t afford to lose a single dolphin,” Katrina Subedar says.

DOC and MPI acknowledge that Maui’s dolphins face a high risk of extinction. “So why doesn’t this government take this threat seriously? It should immediately ban all gill nets and trawlers from where these dolphins are found, which is offshore to the 100-metre depth contour and within all harbours along the west coast of the North Island. Also, expert scientists identified the importance of the corridor between the North and South Islands, which connects Maui’s with the closely related Hector’s dolphin,” Katrina Subedar says.

“The proposed options show New Zealand hasn’t listened to the rest of the world, particularly the recent International Whaling Commission and IUCN calls for action on better protecting Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins.

“The world is watching New Zealand and we can’t afford not to take immediate action. Our fishing industry relies on New Zealand’s clean, green reputation, which would be at serious risk if the Maui’s dolphin became extinct.”

Forest & Bird encourages New Zealanders to make their voices heard on the consultation paper before November 12. Earlier this year, more than 32,000 people submitted on the measures around Taranaki, with 76 per cent of submissions calling for greater protection of Maui’s dolphins.

“It’s time the government listened to New Zealanders. Our marine mammals are the pandas of the sea, and we need to protect them.”

More information at http://www.doc.govt.nz/getting-involved/consultations/current/threat-management-plan-review-for-mauis-dolphin/

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