Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

IWC to consider imminent extinction of Maui’s dolphins

International Whaling Commission to consider imminent extinction of Maui’s dolphins


New research confirms that New Zealand’s Maui’s dolphins could face extinction by 2031. In the past two years, the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) had issued urgent recommendations about the need to protect the dolphins’ from fishing nets. New Zealand has failed to implement this advice. IWC scientists are scheduled to discuss the plight of the last 50 Maui’s dolphins again at their meeting in Bled, Slovakia this week.

With less than 15 breeding females, Maui’s dolphins are amongst the rarest and most endangered mammals on earth. Fishing progressively decimated numbers from around 1,800 individuals in the 1970 to just 50. With numbers this low, the death of more than one individual every 10-23 years will have devastating consequences for the entire population.

In 2012, a government appointed Panel of Experts determined that gillnets and trawling kill five Maui’s dolphins each year. Dr Liz Slooten from the University of Otago estimates that extensions to fisheries exclusion zones introduced since then reduce the level of Maui’s dolphin bycatch to 3.28 - 4.16 individuals per year - 54 times the sustainable limit.

“Conservation Minister Nick Smith acknowledges that fishing poses the greatest threat to the Maui’s dolphins”, says Thomas Tennhardt, Chief Executive of German conservation group NABU International. “Yet New Zealand is ignoring urgent calls by every conceivable international scientific body to immediately prohibit the use of gill and trawl nets in Maui’s habitat to reduce bycatch to zero.”

“Based on Dr Slooten’s data, our calculations indicate that Maui’s dolphins may become extinct as early as 2031,” explains NABU International’s Head of Endangered Species Conservations, Dr Barbara Maas. “The marginal increase in fisheries protection put in place by the New Zealand government falls significantly short of the zero tolerance approach to bycatch mortality mandated by science. It will at best delay the dolphins’ demise by 4-18 years.”

“Data on the offshore distribution of Maui’s dolphins support a water depth of 100 metre as an effective offshore boundary for their protection (the approximate equivalent of at least 12 nautical miles offshore). If applied this could allow Maui’s dolphin to recover to a less threatened status within 126 years, provided other threats such as seismic testing, fossil fuel extraction and large scale iron ore sand mining are called off.”

“Current protection measures are an arbitrary mix of inconsistent and biologically meaningless fisheries exclusion zones”, adds Dr Maas. “They extend from zero to two, four and seven nautical miles offshore and reflect fishing interests rather than match Maui’s dolphin distribution.”

“As a scientist, this process has been deeply frustrating”, says Dr. Slooten. “The data could not be any clearer. We know that dolphin populations this small can disappear very quickly. The Baiji or Chinese river dolphin was recently declared extinct. About 40 Baiji survived in 1998, but despite an extensive survey not a single individual could be found by 2006. It is inconceivable that Maui’s dolphins should follow suit.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 


Federated Farmers: NAIT Levy Increases Must Achieve Accurate, User-friendly System
Nobody welcomes extra costs but if OSPRI is to catch-up on under investment in the NAIT platform and deliver on its workability and farmer support, levy increases are probably necessary, Federated Farmers says... More>>



Westpac: More Job Opportunities, But Growth In Workers’ Earnings Remains Subdued

The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index rose 1.2 points in the December quarter, to a level of 106.9. This was the sixth straight rise in the index since the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Michael Gordon, Acting Chief Economist for Westpac, noted that the rise in the index has largely been driven by perceptions... More>>




Statistics: Card Spending Continues To Increase As COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

The busy Christmas period combined with easing COVID-19 restrictions helped to increase card spending in December 2021, Stats NZ said today... More>>

TradeMe: Job Market Ends 2021 On A High With Record Number Of Vacancies
The New Zealand job market finished 2021 on a high note, with the ball still firmly in the job hunters’ court, according to the analysis of 69,600 vacancies listed on Trade Me Jobs for the quarter ending 31 December (Q4)... More>>


Insurance Council of New Zealand: September South Island Windstorm Cost $36.5 M Raises 2021 Extreme Weather Claims Total To $321.6 M

Gale force winds and storms between 9 and 13 September 2021 resulted in insurers supporting communities to the tune of $36.5 m. This is a significant rise, of $16.7 m, on preliminary figures for the event and lifts the end of year total for all extreme weather events in 2021 to $321.6 m... More>>


Statistics: Building Consents Hit New Highs In November
There were a record 48,522 new homes consented in the year ended November 2021, Stats NZ said today. This was up 26 percent compared with the year ended November 2020... More>>