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BROCHURE RACK

Maui's dolphins to be extinct by 2030: World's marine mammal scientists urge immediate action

14/02/2013 08:45:57
nz/mauis_trawler

A commercial trawler hauls in its nets while a group of Hector's dolphins swims just yards away. Clear proof that the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary is too small to protect this endangered marine species.

Urgent gillnet ban only way to save Maui's dolphins

Courtesy of NABU International - Please click here to go to their website about saving Maui's and Hector's dolphins

February 2013. In a letter to New Zealand's Prime Minister, the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) urges the government to ban gillnets and trawling in Maui's dolphin habitat immediately to avoid their extinction. With a membership of some 2,000 scientists from 60 countries, the SMM is the world's largest professional body dedicated to research on marine mammals and the ecosystems that support them. The letter highlights that fishing nets alone kill about nine percent of an estimated population of 55 individuals over one year of age, which will render Maui's dolphins virtually extinct in less than 20 years. 

The SMM expressed its concerns in a letter addressed to New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, as well as the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, and the Minister of Conservation Nick Smith.

"I encourage you to act quickly and decisively to provide the leadership in marine conservation that the world expects of your country," writes SMM President Professor Helene Marsh. "Scientists from New Zealand and elsewhere have provided an exceptionally strong scientific basis for managing fisheries to prevent the extinction of Maui's dolphins. Any bycatch of Maui's dolphins is clearly unsustainable. You will appreciate the urgent need to act on that science and strengthen measures to protect these dolphins."

Under current protection levels, Maui’s dolphins will become practically extinct by 2030 as a result of fishing. Green bars: Historic population status, orange bars: prognosis at an annual decline of 9% due to fishing.

Under current protection levels, Maui’s dolphins will become practically extinct by 2030 as a result of fishing. Green bars: Historic population status, orange bars: prognosis at an annual decline of 9% due to fishing.

The SMM also makes reference to international scientific concerns expressed last year by the International Whaling Commission and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). "On behalf of the Society for Marine Mammology, I concur with the IWC recommendation to extend the North Island protected area and the IUCN resolution to ban gillnets and trawl fisheries in all areas where these dolphins are found."

"I encourage you to act quickly and decisively to provide the leadership in marine conservation that the world expects of your country."

IUCN opposed by New Zealand alone
The IUCN motion had called on New Zealand to prohibit the use of gill and trawl nets in coastal waters where Hector's and Maui's dolphins occur up to a depth of 100 metre. It was passed with 117 countries and 460 organisations voting in favour. New Zealand alone had opposed it.

The New Zealand government's decision on whether to increase the protection for the last 55 Maui's dolphins is now almost two months overdue, so this is a very timely letter. There is nothing left in terms of credible scientific endorsement for what we have been asking for for years. With every passing day of inaction, Maui's dolphins are put at risk unnecessarily. The scientific evidence for an immediate zero tolerance approach to Maui's dolphin mortality is overwhelming, and New Zealand has become embarrassingly isolated amidst growing international interest and concern.

Read the Marine Mammal Society's letter to the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key here.

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