Govt not doing enough to save Maui's dolphins – Greens, WWF
By Kelly Teed
The Green Party is calling for the Government to do everything in its power to save Maui's dolphins – or risk losing them forever.
New research from NABU International has revealed that Maui's dolphin numbers have dropped from an estimated 55 to between 43 and 47 individuals – with just 10 to 12 of those believed to be adult females.
Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage says it's up to the Government to respond to this drop in population.
"We either do everything we can to save these unique animals - the population of which can only withstand one human induced death every 10 to 23 years – or we lose them."
Ms Sage says the Government can do more to properly protect Maui's dolphins, such as properly protecting them from fishing in the marine mammal sanctuary off the west coast of the North Island and extending the sanctuary boundaries.
"The Minister of Conservation said she would look at extending the sanctuary if there were 'significant' sightings outside it, but refuses to confirm what 'significant' means."
Ms Sage adds the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has recorded Maui's dolphin sightings as far south as Paekakariki.
WWF New Zealand's Head of Campaigns, Peter Hardstaff says the organisation also supports Maui's dolphins sanctuary boundaries being extended.
"WWF is calling for Maui's dolphins to be protected throughout their entire range from set netting, trawling and risky marine mining activities.
"This requires creating a genuine sanctuary from Maunganui Bluff to the Whanganui river mouth, including harbours and waters out to 100 meters deep and helping fishers transition to dolphin-safe fishing methods," he says.
Mr Hardstaff says the Government has been "too slow to act on the science… that fishing with set nets and trawls poses the number one threat to Maui's dolphins."
Earlier this year, Auckland Council voted to oppose oil exploration in a sanctuary home to the dolphin but Mr Hardstaff says to save the Maui's dolphins from extinction, a national level response is needed.
He says public polling consistently shows that the vast majority of Kiwis want better protection for Maui's dolphins and the Government needs to take action.
"If Ministers stepped up now to get deadly set nets out of the waters wherever these dolphins are found and to help the fishing sector transition, it would be a real win-win."
source: newshub archive