Government urged to better protect Māui dolphin in wake of new population estimate
Thursday, October 20: Greenpeace New Zealand is calling on further protection for Māui dolphin after the latest population estimate shows the number of the critically endangered dolphin has potentially risen.
The Māui survey, carried out by DOC, MPI and researchers from Auckland and Oregon State Universities, estimates that there are now around 63 Māui left, up from the last estimate of 55 in a 2010-2011 survey.
Greenpeace says while it’s encouraging that indications are there has been a small increase in the population of the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, it does not change their critically endangered status.
It does, however, show that that the added protections that have been implemented over the years might be working, and must be continued, expanded and intensified.
This is especially pressing considering new and destructive human activities like seismic testing and seabed mining are now being planned and carried out in and around the Māui’s habitat.
Greenpeace is calling on the Government to extend the dolphin’s marine mammal sanctuary refuge to cover their full habitat range, issue a ban on net fishing, seabed mining, petroleum exploration and drilling from within the sanctuary, and ban seismic testing from within 20 nautical miles of the sanctuary's boundary.
Over 65,000 people have signed Greenpeace’s petition on the issue.
Evidence suggests that Māui may be travelling outside of the area that is currently protected.
Recent research shows Māui’s cousins, Hector’s dolphins, regularly travel outside of their normal habitat in winter, far away from safe waters.
If Māui are doing the same, then they could be in grave danger. Currently, their protected zone only covers where they are known to be in summer.