International Whaling Commission expresses ‘grave concerns’ for Māui dolphins | WWF New Zealand

International Whaling Commission expresses ‘grave concerns’ for Māui dolphins

Posted on
22 June 2015
(Wellington, 22 June) The world’s leading whale and dolphin scientists have expressed their ‘grave concerns’ about the survival of the last 55 Māui dolphins, and reiterated their calls for urgent action to save these animals from imminent extinction.
The newly released International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee report concludes that the New Zealand government is falling short of protecting Māui dolphins and urges the highest priority be given to eliminating the risk to dolphins from entanglement in setnets and trawl nets before it is too late.
“Action to protect Māui dolphins is long overdue, and not only is the delay making the road to recovery for the world’s smallest and rarest dolphinmore difficult, the repeated issuing of extinction warnings that go unheeded is tarnishing New Zealand’s reputation on the global stage,” said Peter Hardstaff, WWF-New Zealand’s Head of Campaigns.
“WWF urges the government to act without further delay and to help affected fishers transition to dolphin-friendly methods.”
The IWC recommends that Māui dolphins should be protected throughout their entire range, from Maunganui Bluff in Northland to Whanganui, offshore to 20 nautical miles and inside harbours. Currently less than half of Māui current range is protected by fishing restrictions.

New population modelling from Professor Liz Slooten was presented at the Commission’s meeting last month that revealed the population of Māui dolphins would continue to decline under the current limited protection measures, with the likelihood of the population having just 5 breeding females in 2033. However, under the IWC’s recommendations, the population has a much higher chance of recovery.
Rosa Argent, WWF-New Zealand Communications Manager, mob 027 212 3103,
Notes to editors
Link to the IWC SC report:
IWC recommendations:

Given the information presented this year, the Committee concludes, again, that existing management measures in relation to bycatch mitigation fall short of its previous recommendations and expresses grave concern over the status of this small population. The human-caused death of even one individual would increase the extinction risk for this subspecies. It reiterates its previous recommendation that highest priority should be assigned to immediate management actions to eliminate bycatch of Māui dolphins. This includes closures of any fisheries within the range of Māui dolphins that are known to pose a risk of bycatch to dolphins (i.e. set net and trawl fisheries). It re-emphasises that the critically endangered status of this population and the inherent and irresolvable uncertainty surrounding information on small populations point to the need for precautionary measures. 
Ensuring full protection of Māui dolphins throughout their known range, together with an ample buffer zone, would minimise the risk of bycatch and maximise the chances of population increase. The Committee notes that the confirmed current range extends from Maunganui Bluff in the north to Whanganui in the south, offshore to 20 n.miles and included harbours. Within this defined area, fishing methods other than set nets and trawling should be used. 
The Committee again urges the New Zealand Government to commit to specific population increase targets and timelines, and again, respectfully requests that reports be provided annually on progress towards conservation goals. 


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