Fishers make extraordinary move to save Māui dolphins
Today, Moana New Zealand and Sanford Limited announced their commitment to the goal of removing fishing-related threats across the entire Māui dolphin range, so that this critically endangered species can rebound and expand.
"This commitment by Sanford and Moana is a truly ground breaking and inspiring move," said WWF-New Zealand’s Head of Campaigns, Peter Hardstaff.
“These companies are supporting a lasting solution for Māui dolphins and demonstrating leadership by taking voluntary actions to reduce the fishing threats to these amazing animals."
The voluntary actions announced by the companies include: withdrawing annual catch entitlement to set net fishers north of New Plymouth by October 2017; and investing in trialling alternative dolphin-safe fishing methods to replace conventional trawling within six years (by the end of 2022).
"This leadership is vital, but Sanford and Moana cannot remove the fishing threats on their own because there are many other fishers operating in Māui habitat,” Mr Hardstaff said.
WWF urges the government to publicly support this commitment and assist fishers to transition to dolphin-safe methods throughout the Māui dolphin range.
“This is a conservation emergency requiring concerted and collaborative action – it is essential that the NZ government engages with Moana and Sanford and other fishers on the North Island’s west coast,” Mr Hardstaff said.
"We urge all political parties to get behind this initiative and support a lasting solution so that the Māui dolphin population can be saved from extinction.”
The Māui dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) – found only in New Zealand – is the world’s rarest and smallest marine dolphin, but currently, less than half of their habitat is protected. The last survey estimated that there are only 63 dolphins over the age of one year. Scientists estimate that more than 95% of unnatural Māui deaths are caused by entanglement and drowning in set net or trawl fishing.
Māui dolphin full habitat is from Maunganui Bluff to the Whanganui River mouth, out to 100m depth contour and within harbours.
Click here to find out how you can help save the precious Māui dolphins.