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Video shows reality of Hector's and Māui dolphin bycatch

Video illustrates grim reality of Hector's and Māui dolphin bycatch

NABU International and International Whaling Commission scientists call for urgent action

Video:

This video clip originates from a camera trial on six set net fishing vessels trips in the southern inshore fishery in 2012 that were published by MPI last year on https://youtu.be/XkgXJ0AT60k

Video footage of two fishermen pulling a dead Hector’s dolphins aboard a set net vessel, disentangling it from the net, dragging it across deck and discarding it into the sea before seamlessly returning to their fishing duties, shows the disturbing reality of endangered dolphin bycatch. The footage, made public by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), shows the grim reality of how fishing is driving New Zealand’s endangered Hector’s and Māui dolphins to extinction.

“What we are seeing here is all the more disturbing because of the casual manner in which the situation is handled by the fishermen,” says NABU International’s Chief Executive Thomas Tennhardt. “Earlier this year, over 150,000 people from around the globe signed our petition calling on the New Zealand government to protect Māui dolphins now. Tit wouldn’t take much, but if the government continues to turn its back on science and public opinion, the dolphins’ extinction is simply a matter of time.”

“NABU International has been calling on successive governments to ban harmful set and trawl nets in the dolphins’ habitat since 2009.”, says Dr Barbara Maas, Head of Endangered Species Conservation at NABU International. “Then there were still 111 Māui dolphins. Now we are down to about half that number as dolphin after dolphin dies in nets. Separating dolphins and nets and transitioning affected fishermen to environmentally sustainable fishing methods or alternative livelihoods is critical if the Māui and Hector’s dolphins are to have a future.”

This week International Whaling Commission scientists too renewed their increasingly urgent calls for New Zealand to take action, stating that “no new management action regarding the Māui dolphin has been enacted since 2013”. The scientists express “continued grave concern over the status of this small, severely depleted subspecies” and conclude “that existing management measures in relation to bycatch mitigation fall short of what has been recommended.”

The IWC had long since urged New Zealand to eliminate Māui dolphin bycatch through the implementation of immediate set net and trawl fisheries closures that extend 20 nautical miles offshore from Maunganui Bluff to Whanganui and include harbours.

“Prior to last year’s election, two of the three government coalition partners – Labour and the Green Party - had pledged to do just that” says Maas. “Nine months have passed since then as New Zealand continues to ignore the advice of the 200 IWC experts for five years running. According to new research published at the IWC, just 57 Māui dolphins and possibly as few as 44 individuals survive in a declining population. Māuis simply can’t wait any longer. Unless measures are put in place now, there may be no Māui dolphins left by the time the next Threat Management Plan process is complete. At some 20 million dollars, saving Māui dolphins is exceptionally cheap compared to other endangered species such Cross River gorillas, Sumatran rhinos or snow leopards for example.

Report of the Scientific Committee

2018 (IWC/67/Rep01(2018)): https://archive.iwc.int/pages/view.php?search=%21collection73+&k=&modal=&display=thumbs&order_by=relevance&offset=0&per_page=240&archive=&sort=DESC&restypes=&recentdaylimit=&foredit=&ref=6940


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