Saving Māui dolphins: IWC calls for urgent action, not more research | WWF New Zealand

Saving Māui dolphins: IWC calls for urgent action, not more research

Posted on
09 July 2016
The world’s leading whale and dolphin scientists are alarmed that the New Zealand Government is not stepping up to save the critically endangered Māui dolphin, saying urgent action is needed, not more research.
Today, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) small cetaceans sub-committee report was released, following the IWC Scientific Committee meeting in Bled, Slovenia, urging that the highest priority be given to eliminating the risk to Māui dolphins from entanglement in set nets and trawl nets before it is too late. 
“The conclusions of this international science panel are clear; more incremental steps and more research are not good enough. We need action to fully protect Māui dolphins across their entire range. The government should do the maximum possible, rather than the minimum it can get away with,” said Peter Hardstaff, WWF-New Zealand’s Head of Campaigns.
“The government must act without further delay by helping affected fishers transition to dolphin-friendly methods and extending the ban on set netting and traditional trawling to cover all of Māui dolphins’ known range,” he said. 
“The world is watching us, we need to do the right thing and save these dolphins, which are only found in New Zealand, with an estimated 55 adults left.”
The IWC recommends that Māui dolphins should be protected from Maunganui Bluff in Northland to Whanganui, offshore to 20 nautical miles and inside harbours. Currently less than half of Māui dolphins' current range is protected by fishing restrictions.
“The science is very clear – we have heard the same thing from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Society for Marine Mammology, and the government’s own risk assessment panel – Māui dolphins need urgent protection across their entire range,” Mr Hardstaff said.
For four years now, the IWC Scientific Committee has expressed increasing concern and recommended conservation and management measures regarding Critically Endangered species, sub-species and populations of cetaceans – with special focus on vaquita, Māui dolphins and the now extinct baiji.
“The Scientific Committee has been very clear regarding the need to urgently eliminate the threat from set net and trawl fishing, accompanied by research and monitoring to determine the effectiveness of these measures," Mr Hardstaff said.


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