Greenpeace says further delays to the Māui and Hector’s dolphin Threat Management Plan (TMP) is an irresponsible move that could push the vulnerable species closer to extinction.
The Government announced on Thursday that the TMP will be delayed, with a decision expected in the coming months.
Jessica Desmond, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, says this delay could mean further dolphin deaths this summer, putting an already fragile species at further risk.
"There are as few as 15 breeding age Māui females left in New Zealand. If we have just one bycatch event over the summer season, these animals really could be past the point of saving," she says.
"We know what we have to do to save these dolphins, the science is very clear. We need a ban on set net and trawl fishing out to 100 metres depth in the entire dolphin habitat. Anything less means extinction.
"There have been numerous delays throughout this TMP process, and the lack of urgency to save our native dolphins is pretty hard to defend. Especially considering commercial fishing companies are still out there operating in dolphin habitats, putting them at risk.
"Māui and Hector’s dolphins are only found in Aotearoa, and despite the extinction crisis we face, not enough is being done to protect them, and nowhere near fast enough."