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Dolphin Protections ‘Clayton’s Measures’ Say Campaigners

Dolphin Protections ‘Clayton’s Measures’ Say Campaigners

Dolphin campaigners are commending Nick Smith’s proposal announced today which would extend the protection for Maui’s, the world’s rarest and smallest marine dolphins. Maui’s dolphins are found only here in New Zealand. But campaigners it’s a ‘Clayton’s Protection’ and potentially represents a reduction in the provisions in place as part of emergency interim measures introduced last year.

The Government consulted on a range of protection measures in 2012 in its Threat Management Plan (TMP), after critically endangered dolphins were killed in nets and sighted outside the hitherto protected area. The TMP measures included an extension of the set net and trawl ban area South from the current Pariokariwa Point near New Plymouth to an area South of Hawera. This extension was considered critical as new scientific evidence proved that the dolphins travelled further than previously thought – a range of at least 80km. But today’s announcement also signalled a further delay on the decision on the TMP, to almost a year after submissions closed.

Christine Rose, Chair of ‘Maui’s & Hector’s Dolphins Education/Action Inc.’ and long term dolphin advocate, says, “If this protection comes to pass, it will be the first time a National Government has taken measures to save this species”. “However, it is less than the current interim measures, so it’s a ‘Clayton’s protection’. It potentially diminishes the area currently excluded from indiscriminate set net fishing which the Minister admits is a serious threat to the survival of this iconic endemic dolphin”. “This announcement is a ‘one step forward, one step back’ approach and is inadequate overall’.

“More than 70,000 submissions were made on the Government’s Maui’s Dolphins Threat Management Plan which identified their threats, and the potential responses required to save them”. 2000 imminent scientists also wrote to the Government calling for better protection. “These are among the most studied dolphins in the world, and there’s no doubt within the scientific community that to secure the long term viability of Maui’s dolphins, also known as ‘Popoto’, that the entire habitat must be protected, -that’s in water out to 100 metres deep, in harbours, and the dolphin corridor between the North and South Islands allowing transfer of genetic diversity from the South Island Hector’s Dolphins to the northern Maui’s”.

Mrs Rose says, ‘Good start Minister Smith, but more – not less protection- from the current state is needed. Anything else still consigns the dolphins to risk and possible extinction’

ENDS

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