About the Maui's Dolphin
Maui’s dolphins are listed as Critically Endangered by both national (Department of Conservation) and international agencies (IUCN). By definition, this means “facing an extremely high risk of extinction”. The Maui's is a subspecies of the Hector's which is also critically endangered.
"...release of a new study that shows there are just 55 adult Maui dolphins left, less than half the amount recorded in 2005". No dolphin population of this size can be considered sustainable unless human impacts are reduced as far as possible.
Dolphin deaths in fishing nets (in particular gillnets) is known to be the most serious impact on Maui’s dolphins, as explained in the Threat Management Plan prepared by the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries. Luckily, eliminating fisheries bycatch would be relatively easy and cheap. The gillnet fishery produces low-quality fish, because the fish sit in the nets for up to 24 hours (longer if the weather conditions are poor and the fishermen can’t clear their nets every day).
Deaths of Maui’s dolphins in gill nets and trawl nets are easily avoidable, by avoiding use of this gear in their habitat. More selective, sustainable fishing methods, that do not kill dolphins are readily available. Using selective fishing methods would benefit not only dolphins, but also seabirds and the fish populations on which the long-term future of the fishing industry depends.
REQUEST to New Zealand Government (to be included):
In line with urgent recommendations made by the IUCN in September 2012, we urge the New Zealand government to afford Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins immediate full protection against gill netting and trawling throughout their habitat to avert their extinction. Swift, decisive and uncompromising action is required to prevent any further fatalities amongst the last individuals so they have a chance of returning from the very brink of extinction. Every day the animals are exposed to gill and trawl nets carries a risk we simply can’t afford. With small and declining populations, only a zero tolerance approach to fishing-related mortality will save both subspecies. If ever there was a time to act, it is now.
We strongly urge the New Zealand Government to protect Maui's and Hector's dolphins within the full extent of their range as detailed below.
- base all Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphin management decisions and policies on the best available independent scientific information;
- develop science-based, measurable and testable management targets for the recovery of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin;
- implement full protection measures against fisheries by-catch off Kaikoura, Timaru and Taranaki to ensure there are no further avoidable deaths;
- eliminate the use of commercial and recreational set nets and trawling within harbours, throughout the range of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, out to the 100m depth contour, and with a safe passage or genetic bridge to the South Island Golden and Tasman Bay areas;
- implement a comprehensive, scientifically sound fisheries observer programme and boost policing of the protection measures;
- We also implore you to prevent other catastrophic industries such as seabed mining, oil extraction, including any seismic testing, and tidal energy turbines to continue or begin to operate in New Zealand’s territorial waters, especially in known regions of habitat for the Hector's and Maui's dolphin.
"Let's Face It" visual petitions for Maui's & Hector's dolphins
will be sent to the following:
John Key, Prime Minister (New Zealand)
Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries
Hon Dr Nick Smith, Minister of Conservation