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Campaign Launch to Highlight Dolphin By-catch

Campaign Launch to Highlight Dolphin By-catch

A new campaign is being launched at 2pm on Sunday 1 November at the Onehunga pedestrian overbridge, near Onehunga Port, to highlight the by-catch risk to New Zealand’s endangered Māui and Hector’s dolphins.

Māui and Hector’s dolphins are the world’s smallest, rarest and “loveliest” marine dolphins, say campaign organisers from the conservation group Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders.

However, scientists suggest at least three Māui dolphins are caught every year in New Zealand’s inshore fishing effort. 2010-11 figures estimated only 55 Māui dolphins remain, and the population cannot sustain a single human induced death in 10-23 years if the species is to survive. 95% of Māui and Hector’s dolphin deaths have been caused by gill net entrapment, where the cause of death is known, according to Department of Conservation figures.

“Clearly this type of fishing and the dolphins’ survival is incompatible” says Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders Chair, Christine Rose. ‘This campaign reminds New Zealanders to think of the dolphins when they buy inshore fish species. Only when recreational and commercial gillnets are removed from the dolphins’ habitat will they be safe from extinction”.

“The campaign is also a reminder against complacency. After the last Māui dolphin net entrapment, the Minister of Conservation of the time, Nick Smith, now Minister for the Environment, promised to increase fisheries observer coverage to 100% in the core Māui habitat over four years, to clarify and quantify dolphin deaths. At last update almost two years in, only 11%, or 54 of 475 fishing days had observer coverage.”

“This campaign calls on the Government to honour its commitment to 100% observer coverage in core Māui habitat, and reminds the New Zealand public of their role in either saving Māui and Hector’s dolphins, or supporting their extinction.”

The campaign launch takes place near Onehunga Port, landing point for much of the fish caught in Māui habitat. The public are invited to attend and to bring painted dolphins. By-catch information will be released as part of graphic new campaign collateral.


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