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156,000 petition NZ Government over Maui’s dolphins

156,000 petition New Zealand Government over Maui’s dolphins in London

Conservation group NABU International presented a 156,000 signatures strong petition calling for the immediate and full protection of Maui’s dolphin habitat to the New Zealand High Commission in London.

NABU International’s Head of Endangered Species Conservation, Dr Barbara Maas and Maui’s dolphin expert Dr Liz Slooten handed the petition to Deputy High Commissioner Rob Taylor at New Zealand House in central London last Friday.

The petitions urge the Government to implement advice by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN is dedicated to finding pragmatic solutions to the most pressing environment challenges and publishes the Red List of Threatened Species. In 2012 the organisation passed a motion that calls for a ban on gillnetting and trawling to a water depth of 100 metres throughout the dolphins’ habitat to avert their extinction.

International concern is mounting over New Zealand’s persistent failure to protect Maui’s dolphins”, said NABU International Chief Executive Thomas Tennhardt. “Population numbers have shrunk by over 97% to just 50 individuals. Extinction is inevitable unless New Zealand heeds the unanimous advice of the international scientific community and protects the dolphins’ habitat immediately.

“Fishing-related mortality amongst Maui’s dolphins is 54 times higher than the sustainable limit”, says NABU International’s Head of Endangered Species Conservation, Dr. Barbara Maas. “But just five percent of the dolphins’ habitat is protected from trawl nets and less than 20 percent is safe from gillnets.”

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“Over the past three years, the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued increasingly urgent recommendations asking New Zealand to prohibit gill netting and trawling across the dolphins’ home.” At its recent meeting in Slovenia, 31 IWC member states, including the EU and the US, urged New Zealand to implement the Scientific Committee’s advice as a matter of urgency.”

“New Zealand responded that it did not dispute the Scientific Committee’s findings, but that management of Maui’s dolphins had to consider other factors. Divorcing population management from science in favour of economic interests such as fishing, fossil fuel production and mining has already reduced Maui’s dolphins to just 50 individuals and will soon lead to zero dolphins.”

In an open letter to the Government, 104 international conservation organisations affirmed that unless New Zealand acts on the advice of the international scientific community, they will urge purchasers of New Zealand seafood to buy their fish elsewhere.

“Maui’s dolphins struggle to survive in an increasingly hostile world,” says Dr Maas. Their home is riddled with nets and seismic blasts, and further oil and mining operations are just around the corner. The people of New Zealand and the international community want to see Maui’s dolphins survive. This can only be achieved if New Zealand reconnects conservation measures with science.”


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