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

14/02/2013 08:45:57

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.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

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Posted by: kdrcyber | 14 Nov 2015 01:19:03

Extinction in PM's hands

Kiwis love a good feast of fush und chups as much as we Aussies do; there's livelihoods to consider, profit and loss margins, localised industries, so on & so forth - in short, the fishing industry is important.

HOW important is it that the fishing industry use extremely damaging nets which risk the decimation of a unique and non target species?

HOW important is it to fish furiously so, that doing so a mere 10klms further offshore beyond the maui's range is TOO much to lose?

HOW important is it that the government fails to enforce two very minor and easy changes within the local fishing industry to give your native and endemic species a fighting chance?

There may well be numerous factors contributing to the desperate plight of the Maui's Dolphins, but they ARE changeable - certainly 2 critical factors are as mentioned above. It would be a travesty of this modern era for NZ to lose another species for lack of action in the face of extended warning and public will.

Ultimately the failure to act and enforce valid and meaningful (genuine if you will) protection of this dwindling species rests not on NZ's whole people - but the voted in and obliged representative for them - the Prime Minister.

Face it, the key is in your hands John Key! C'mon cousin Kiwis, we're behind you! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Posted by: Tricia Wiles | 19 Feb 2013 21:06:13

Act before it is too late for these amazing creatures

Great to see an article here about the plight of the Hector's & Maui's dolphins here. Please join the campaign to put pressure on the New Zealand government to listen to overwhelming scientific evidence and put into place the recommended measures to protect these dolphins before it is too late. If they fail to act NOW, it will be a case of 'M was for Maui's dolphins'........ :( mauissos

Posted by: Kim | 16 Feb 2013 15:29:20

Save our Maui & Hector's Dolphins

As a New Zealander, I'm appalled that our current Government continue to ignore International Marine Mammal Scientists and our own (who have been studying their decline for nearly 30 years) and the IUCN on the recommendations to help save our endemic dolphins. Please spread the word, help us pressure the NZ Government and join our FB page

Kia Ora from New Zealand

Posted by: Linda Robinson | 16 Feb 2013 04:13:10

Maui's dolphins need our help

So nice to see your article here, pointing the world to the fact that these little dolphins really need our help, now more than ever. With only approximately 55 left, a decreased genetic pool to function from, and a longer-than-standard juvenile to maturity time frame, they can use all the help we can give them. Please check out our page on facebook if you are interested in finding out how to help more.

Posted by: Amy | 15 Feb 2013 14:17:38

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