The New Zealand Government has now released the public consultation draft for its Threat Management Plan for Māui and Hector's dolphins – New Zealand’s only endemic dolphin species and among the world’s most endangered. The consultation will run for six weeks after which the New Zealand government will consider submissions and finalize the plan.
The proposed plan doesn't go far enough.
It fails to protect all habitat for all Māui and Hector's sub-populations and takes a piecemeal approach.
However, this process is the best opportunity we have to remove and manage the many threats to these beautiful animals and avoid the extinction of New Zealand’s iconic dolphin species.
Act now by signing onto our submission so the New Zealand government knows we want these dolphins protected.
Māui and Hector’s are the smallest (and among the rarest) dolphins in the world and are only found in New Zealand. These much-loved dolphins are friendly and often interact with surfers and swimmers.
Māui and Hector’s dolphins are a New Zealand “taonga” (a highly valued treasure) and are celebrated in culture and art. They deserve our respect and protection.
They have beautiful coloring with grey bodies and black, round dorsal fins. They are highly intelligent, playful, social and live in family groups. However, human activities, in particular gill set net and trawl fishing, have pushed them to unsustainable levels.
The official population estimate for Māui dolphins is between 57 and 75, and, in 2018 alone, at least four Māui’s dolphins were found dead on North Island beaches. Some of the small South Island Hector’s dolphin sub-populations number as low as around 40 individuals.The problem is simple – much of the Hector’s and Māui habitat is unprotected from human threats and human populations. Areas they live in, travel through and need to survive have limited or no protection. Because of the fishing activity within their habitat, dolphins continue to get caught in nets and drown – sometimes whole families.
The New Zealand government’s Threat Management Plan must protect Māui and Hector’s throughout their habitats, as well as the corridor areas joining different dolphin families. The plan must:
- Remove gill, set and trawl nets from the whole of the Māui and Hector’s dolphin habitat out to 109 yards;
- Avoid, remove and properly manage other threats within these areas including seismic testing, and noisy marine activities such as pile driving and mineral extraction;
- Monitor and regulate activities to address risk of boat strike and habitat disturbance;
- Apply improved monitoring and compliance including onboard observer coverage and cameras on the fishing fleet.