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WWF-New Zealand: News

  • WWF-New Zealand and MAUI63 announce innovation in the fight to save Māui dolphins: INTRODUCING MISSION POSSIBLE

    Maui dolphins spotted by a drone<br />© Maui63

    A new tool in the fight to save Māui dolphins from the brink of extinction is here.

    WWF-New Zealand today announced a collaboration with MAUI63 to support their project in which an artificial intelligence-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will find, follow and provide information to ultimately protect the last remaining 63 Māui dolphins.

    MAUI63 is a small group of scientists, developers, and tech experts dedicated to protecting marine life with the latest technologies. Renowned marine mammal expert Associate Professor Rochelle Constantine, Operational Lead Willy Wang and Technical & Project Lead Tane van der Boon have been trialing, to great success, the UAV technology for the past eighteen months.

    Flying overhead with a 50x optical zoom, the UAV can search for the dolphins for up to six hours. The technology is so sophisticated it can distinguish Māui and Hector's dolphins from other species with over 90% accuracy.

    With this UAV, MAUI63 can compile data on almost anything: dolphin habitat, behaviour, changes in water colour and more. Beyond this application for Māui and Hector's dolphins, the technology has the potential to capture data on many types of marine species such as other dolphins, seabirds and whales.

    Using cutting-edge technology such as drones in conservation is not new. Around the world, WWF support a range of projects where drones are used in conservation. Aerial surveillance is a tried and tested model that delivers myriad benefits in the effort to protect endangered species and natural environments.

    This technology is not years away, it is available now, and it can help us in the race to save the last 63 Māui dolphins.

    WWF is asking New Zealanders to join #teamMaui by helping us raise the $350,000 MAUI63 need to buy and operate this project before the end of the year. This will be a mission, but this is Mission Possible!

    Join teamMaui here

  • WWF praises passing of Zero Carbon Bill

    A photo of people from Zero Carbon Act partner organisations delivering the petition to Scott Simpson MP and Minister James Shaw<br />© WWF-New Zealand / Sarah Meads

    David Tong, WWF Climate Change Programme Manager said:

    "The climate crisis does not care about where you live, who you love, vote for, or how you make your money. Climate Change affects every single person, species and ecosystem on our planet, so solutions require rising above petty political squabbles. The young people of Generation Zero thought so, too. Three years ago, Generation Zero sounded the climate alarm, and all over Aotearoa, people from all walks of life, answered the call. New Zealand's businesses, from large corporations to small start-ups, also joined their fight.

    "Today, over 215 New Zealand businesses, community groups and leaders joined the public to make their voices heard by calling for cross-party consensus. They urged decision makers to unite behind the Zero Carbon Bill. From Southland to the Far North, everyone from farmers to accountants all said- we want this. Together, we can take the politics out of climate action and get on with cutting emissions.

    "We are thrilled Parliament heard our call and passed the Zero Carbon Act. Together, they crossed party lines to unify for our environment. This means businesses and people can now work together on a stable foundation to future proof Aotearoa from the climate crisis. Together, it's possible."

  • WWF-New Zealand, Moana New Zealand and Sanford Ltd Propose New Joint Plan to Save Māui Dolphins

    Maui dolphins<br />© © The University Of Auckland / WWF-New Zealand

    The Threat Management Plan options do not go far enough. We need a bolder option to save Māui and Hector's dolphins. So, New Zealand's most trusted environmental NGO joined forces with two of the country's most prominent commercial fishing companies to respond to the Threat Management Plan, proposing a solution which protects Māui dolphins while taking care of those affected by changing the approach to fishing.

    With New Zealand's native Māui dolphins – some of the rarest in the world – on the verge of extinction, the action announced today by the three partners provides a bold new way to address the desperate situation.

    "The four options, presented by the Government simply do not go far enough. We knew it was essential for all of us to work together to find a better, bolder way to save Māui dolphins. Option 5 was born through our careful collaboration," says WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy.

    "We believe it's not enough to just adequately protect our dolphins. We must also protect our people, industry and communities. Option 5 ensures the people, impacted by the necessary changes to protect dolphins, are protected too."

    Created in partnership by Sanford Ltd, Moana New Zealand and WWF-New Zealand with support from the Endangered Species Foundation, Option 5 builds on the success of the Moana and Sanford Māui Dolphin Protection Plan which they established in 2016.

    Grant Leach, Co-Chair, Endangered Species Foundation says, "Option 5 is the best option for Maui dolphin protection. In our opinion, the other four options do not fully address all the issues required to protect New Zealand's number one most endangered species from extinction.

    "We came on board, to collaboratively work, with WWF-New Zealand because we see that the future of endangered species management is with groups working together to develop effective and workable solutions that can deliver results in the timeframes required."

    Sanford Limited CEO Volker Kuntzsch says the welfare of Maui dolphins is a top priority for New Zealand's biggest seafood company.

    "We believe the worst thing that can happen at Sanford is a human fatality and the second worst would be the death of a Maui dolphin. We have been focused on reducing the risk to these precious animals for many years now and the TMP process has provided us with an opportunity to refresh and expand the work we are doing, and the commitments we have made."

    Moana New Zealand CEO Steve Tarrant says "Option 5 is the start of an action plan the Government can put to immediate effect and has the potential to put New Zealand in a world-leading position. Our measures to protect both dolphins and people go further than ever before."

    These management measures are primarily focused on the critically endangered Māui dolphins, but WWF believes these solutions will also positively benefit Hector's dolphins, as well. This includes:

    • implementation of new systems to help gather the much needed data and information while allow for real-time information sharing and best practice decision making;
    • new practices the Option 5 fishing partners are ready to roll out across their fishing vessels and their contractors to integrate management and science so as to reduce any residual risk to Māui dolphins; and
    • implementing new dolphin-safe education programs to complement those already running in aquaculture hosted by DOC to ensure our teams on the water are as well-trained, correctly informed and highly skilled in dolphin-safe fishing as possible.
    • Addressing Toxoplasmosis. Creating critical research infrastructure to tackle the effects of Toxoplasmosis on dolphins and people.

    WWF-New Zealand's CEO says including people into the plan was essential.

    "WWF's mission is to enable people to live in harmony with nature. Option 5 is about people as much as it is about dolphins. Lives are at stake – the lives of these rare dolphins and the lives and livelihoods of people. Every decision made by the TMP will impact businesses, communities, iwi, hapu, whanau, and individuals. Therefore, we have no choice but to move forward with a plan which addresses the needs of all of those affected."

    Mr Kuntzsch says the 'Option 5' submission has been the result of a great deal of hard work.

    "We are very proud of what has been produced and the way in which Moana, WWF and Sanford have worked together to do it. The final document captures the essence of what we believe needs to be done and in some areas it stretches our comfort zone in order to find a compromise between all three parties."

    Steve Tarrant acknowledges that some people may find the partnership response to the TMP a surprise, but says he believes it is the best way to make progress.

    "We absolutely believe it is only when we work together that we can achieve what we need to make change. We are making a big commitment here and the focus is on both protecting Maui dolphins and people. We are not trying to tell the rest of the industry what to do, but we hope that our actions will reduce the risk to dolphins."

    Mr Kuntzsch agrees.

    "This process required courage and compromise, but we believe what we have come out with in the end is a positive way forward for the protection of New Zealand's rare dolphins and also of the people who fish near where these dolphins are found. As Livia has said, both need to be taken care of and that's what we are striving to do. WWF and Moana share the core values we have at Sanford – we all approached this exercise with plenty of passion, care and integrity and with a focus on doing the right thing both on the water and on land."

    Livia Esterhazy, CEO WWF-New Zealand

    Steve Tarrant, CEO Moana New Zealand

    Volker Kuntzsch, CEO Sanford Ltd

    With support of Grant Leach and Rose Hiha-Agnew as joint-chairs of contributing partner Endangered Species Foundation.

    The full joint submission is available to view here.

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Kaitiakitanga is our duty

    Screenshot of Our Planet Visionaries film featuring Jacinda Ardern<br />© Our Planet

    Speaking as one of the Our Planet: Visionaries*, Prime Minister Ardern said, "There is something very special about the way New Zealanders regard their environment. That sense of Kiatiakitanga - guardianship - that we do have this duty to leave our part of the world, indeed the world itself, better than we found it."

    Netflix, in collaboration with WWF, released Our Planet at this critical time- as every creature, citizen, and country on earth face threats like never before. Recent figures [2], from WWF's Living Planet Report 2018, shows global populations of vertebrate species have, on average, declined by 60 per cent since 1970. But it's not just wildlife that's negatively affected by climate change, humans also live under threat of extinction. WWF believes this global dilemma can be solved with a global response.

    "In 50 years time, I hope we look back and say, we took on the greatest environmental challenges of our time and we won. We just changed the way we lived, that we changed our outlook on the use of fossil fuels, that we fundamentally transitioned our economy and that we are all the better for it." says Prime Minister Ardern.

    WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy said, "We know the science says urgent action is required to save our planet. We know we need to change the way we live, not just for ourselves but for our mokopuna's tomorrow. We know together it's possible to reverse the damage we have caused. And we know we need real leadership to make this happen. We echo the Prime Minister's vision for New Zealand and the World's future."

    Go to to find out how you can help our planet to thrive again, add your voice to the call for urgent action, make a pledge to change the way you live, and explore our astonishing planet. Follow Our Planet on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and be part of the conversation with #ShareOurPlanet.

  • Revealed: plastic ingestion by people could be equating to a credit card a week

    Are you eating a credit card of plastic a week?<br />© WWF-Singapore

    A new study finds on average people could be ingesting approximately 5 grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent weight of a credit card. The analysis No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People prepared by Dalberg, based on a study commissioned by WWF and carried out by University of Newcastle, Australia, suggests people are consuming about 2000 tiny pieces of plastic every week. That's approximately 21 grams a month, just over 250 grams a year.

    The University of Newcastle is the first global analysis to combine data from over 50 studies on the ingestion of microplastics by people. The findings are an important step towards understanding the impact of plastic pollution on humans. It also further confirms the urgent need to address the plastic system so that it does not pollute ecosystems in the first place.

    "These findings must serve as a wake-up call to governments.  Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life - it's in all of us and we can't escape consuming plastics. Global action is urgent and essential to tackling this crisis," said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General

    "While research is investigating potential negative effects of plastic on human health, we are all clear that this is a worldwide problem that can only be solved by addressing the root cause of plastic pollution. If we don't want plastic in our bodies, we need to stop the millions of tons of plastic that continue leaking into nature every year. In order to tackle the plastic crisis, we need urgent action at government, business and consumer levels, and a global treaty with global targets to address plastic pollution," continued Lambertini.

    The study demonstrated a wide range in ingestion patterns. Whilst being mindful of the limitations of this evolving field of research, initial findings point towards a global average ingestion rate of plastic by humans of approximately 5 grams per week.

    The single largest source of plastic ingestion is through water, both bottled and tap, all over the world. Large regional variations are reflected again, with twice as much plastic found in the US or India than in European or Indonesian water. Of the consumables studied,  those with the highest recorded plastic levels include shellfish, beer and salt. The findings of the report demonstrate that the problem of plastic pollution is a universal one and directly affecting people. Leakage of plastic into our environment and food chain has been met so far with an inadequate global response by governments.

    No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People calls for governments to step up and play a key role in ensuring the entire chain in the plastic system, from manufacturers to consumers, are held accountable to the common goal of ending plastic pollution. WWF is mobilising the public to support the global petition calling for a legally binding treaty on marine plastics pollution that has already garnered over 500,000 signatures.  The treaty would establish national targets and transparent reporting mechanisms that extend to companies. Additionally, the treaty should provide for financial and technical support for low-income countries to scale up their waste management capacity.

    "While the awareness of microplastics and their impact on the environment is increasing, this study has helped to provide an accurate calculation of ingestion rates for the first time. Developing a method for transforming counts of microplastic particles into masses will help determine the potential toxicological risks for humans moving forward,"  comments  Dr Thava Palanisami, project co-lead and microplastics researcher at the University of Newcastle.

    Ingestion is just one aspect of a much wider plastics crisis. Plastic pollution is a major threat to wildlife, not only through microplastic ingestion but via entanglement and habitat destruction. Plastic pollution also has damaging economic consequences, with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimating its annual economic impact on the ocean economy at US$8 billion.

  • Bayswater Primary Students Dive to the Bottom of the Hauraki Gulf for World Oceans Day

    BLAKE NZ-VR school visit<br />© BLAKE

    "Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor, such wonderful things surround you, what more is you lookin' for?" – Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

    Diving deep below the Ocean's waves, the children of Bayswater Primary School, swam through a school of trevally, raced with dolphins, and explored the depths of the Hauraki Gulf. While, WWF-New Zealand and BLAKE (formerly known as the Sir Peter Blake Trust) couldn't bring the students of Bayswater to the ocean, they are working together to bring the Ocean to them. BLAKE selected Bayswater School to celebrate this year's World Oceans Day as it was Sir Peter Blake's primary school.

    The students were able to enjoy a totally immersive ocean experience through the BLAKE NZ-VR programme: a virtual reality experience with 360 degree views filmed by New Zealand Geographic and supported by WWF-New Zealand. Experiencing pristine marine environments as well as the damage done to the ecosystem allows children to see, first-hand, the majesty of our oceans and how important it is to protect and restore the seabed, the ocean and the lands around it.

    The eco-tour emphasises our responsibilities, as citizens, to our lands and seas. WWF-New Zealand Ocean Programme Manager, Lucy Jacob, says "Our partnership with Blake and NZ Geographic provides a fantastic opportunity to bring the ocean to the people. Not only is this an incredible experience for the kids, but it helps build young ocean guardians who care about protecting our marine resources."

    These virtual explorations, connect Kiwis to parts of Aotearoa to which they may not have access, promotes understanding, engagement, and a deeper sense of kaitiakitanga over our natural world.

    BLAKE Chief Executive James Gibson says, "The BLAKE NZ-VR programme aims to connect thousands of young Kiwis with the marine environment. Most young people have never experienced what's under the surface of our ocean. Through virtual reality, we can take the ocean into the classroom."

    To learn more about BLAKE NZ-VR and how your school can benefit. Take a look at it here

    For images from the day please look here.

  • 9Wire now open for applications

    The Trap and Trigger system<br />© WWF-New Zealand / David Tong

    Today WWF-New Zealand and partners Ākina Foundation, Auckland Council, Callaghan Innovation, Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, and Ministry for Primary Industries launched 9Wire: Aotearoa's first program to fast-track environmental innovations to impact.

    9Wire will take those innovations with the greatest potential for improving the environment and surround them with the bespoke support they need to make a difference in our world.

    The 9Wire partners bring an extensive network of resources to the program. This includes access to more than a billion dollars in funding; more than three hundred PhDs and other experts; and unparalleled access to government, business and the international community. 9Wire totally revolutionizes the way innovators are helped on their path to success.

    WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy explained:

    "We realized we could no longer only just give money or short-term support to innovators and expect our environment to improve. We need to shift our entire vision to support them with their innovations which just might save our world."

    Opening today, applicants are invited to submit their new ideas for nature at Early entries are encouraged, as they will receive feedback and advice during the application process. Applications close on 8 July.

    "We don't just want to help improve the known. We want to support innovators as they invent the unknown. As our Prime Minister said recently, fixing our environment is our moral duty but time is running out. We need 9Wire thinking and we need it now."

  • Aotearoa may be the first country ever to legislate a 1.5C target

    Ferns with text overlaid<br />© WWF-New Zealand

    WWF-New Zealand celebrates today's announcement of the Zero Carbon Act. Now, its time for New Zealanders and government to step up and introduce the new law's 2050 target in Select Committee.
    The government today released the details of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Bill, commonly known as the Zero Carbon Act.
    WWF-New Zealand climate change programme manager, David Tong, said, "This is a huge step forward for climate policy in New Zealand – and towards unlocking a just transition to a safe climate future where New Zealand's people and ecosystems can flourish.
    "This new law gives New Zealand a unique opportunity to enshrine the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming this century below 1.5C in law. Our emissions continue to rise and without this legislation, the consequences for New Zealand people and nature, will be far, far worse. Last year's IPCC report showed the catastrophic consequences if we do not get to net zero emissions and limit warming to 1.5C. 
    "WWF works all over the world and we have not been able to identify any other country that has expressly adopted this target into law. We have the opportunity to show global leadership in confronting the climate crisis. We agree with the Prime Minister, this is our moral duty. 
    "For the last three years, WWF has worked closely with youth organization Generation Zero to back their call for cross party consensus on this new law. Now, it's finally happening.
    "What the government released today isn't quite everything we have called for though. Critically, it does not contain an overall 2050 target of net zero emissions, all gases. When the government consulted New Zealanders last year, 91% of the New Zealanders who submitted called for a net zero all gases target.
    "Many businesses also support a net zero all gases target. Last year, we delivered an open letter signed by over 200 Kiwi businesses, community groups, and leaders, supporting the government's then pledge to set a net zero emissions target.
    "Soon, the government will be consulting New Zealanders on the text of the Zero Carbon Act. We encourage everyone, young and old, from Cape Reinga to Rakiura to make their voices heard. Today's announcement shows that together, it's possible for people to make political parties listen and act on climate change, so let's keep making our voices heard.

  • Environment Aotearoa 2019 Report a Stark Reminder

    WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy<br />© Charlotte Kelly / WWF-New Zealand

    The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report from the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ is a stark reminder of the huge threats New Zealand's environment and communities face says WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy. It reflects WWF's Living Planet Report, which showed global wildlife populations have decreased by 60% since 1970. Environment Aotearoa is essential reading to understand what we have now, what we risk losing, and what we can do to bend the curve. What we MUST do.

    Sadly, not everything in this report is new information. We've known for some time our environment is at risk of irreversible damage from current human activity. Nearly 4,000 of our native species are threatened or at risk of extinction. We are all connected. If the river is sick, people are sick. It is not possible to separate individual issues and treat them symptomatically. Our solutions can not be piecemeal.

    We know it is important to Kiwis, as the report highlights, our connection to nature is so deep that we even name ourselves after a native bird. Now is the time to turn this passion into action. Together it's possible for us to unlock a different future where New Zealanders thrive in harmony with nature. When New Zealanders stand up together we get big changes-like the ban on plastic bags, like the ban on new off shore exploration, and going nuclear free.

    Business as usual won't protect us or our unique environment from the dangers outlined in this report. We need innovative solutions and for private businesses to step up. Some companies are already doing this. Over 80 New Zealand businesses have joined the Climate Leaders Coalition and pledged to cut their emmissions. Many are converting this promise into Science Based Targets with the help of WWF and our partners. And in the ocean, businesses like Moana NZ and Sanford are already researching new ways to fish that are safe for Māui dolphins. All these of these efforts need government support.

    WWF-New Zealand stands ready to work with businesses, communities and government to unlock new, transformative, innovative ideas for nature. Together it's possible.

  • WWF-New Zealand reaction to Government's Environmental Report Card

    Immersed in a swirling vortex of Blue maomao and Demoiselle fishes in the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. Established to protect the surrounding ocean and its marine life, the fish have flourished in the protection of the marine reserve. Diving the Poor Knights Islands is a magical experience - a true celebration of the exquisite beauty of the ocean.<br />© Alison Perkins / WWFToday, the Government released New Zealand's Sixth National Report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. They committed to being more transparent about the way our country categorises marine protected areas compared to previous reports. 

    WWF-New Zealand believes this is a great first step and we commend the Government for acknowledging that only 0.4 percent of New Zealand's marine and coastal areas are truly protected inside existing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). It is our hope this recognition will help us, as a nation, take further steps to ensure we have healthy and resilient oceans for future generations. 

    International best practice recommends safe-guarding at least 30 percent of each marine habitat inside a network of MPAs. Currently, 30 percent of our ocean is under fisheries management protection, but WWF-New Zealand believes we should follow the international guidelines and move to MPAs. New Zealand has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with an abundance of rich diversity. Following these guidelines should help us to conserve this biodiversity while, at the same time, create sustainable fisheries and resilience to climate change impacts.

    Now that our Government has recognised we only have 0.4 percent of our important habitats fully protected, it is critical to implement the Rangitāhua/Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. Establishing this sanctuary would leap frog New Zealand from 0.4 percent to 15 percent protection overnight. 

    In addition, we would urge the Government to proceed with much needed reform to New Zealand's MPA policy, which was consulted on in 2016. Strong policy in this area will help guide us towards establishing an effective network of MPAs, and thus protecting and conserving our valuable marine resources for future generations. 

    We look forward to working towards this shared ambition with the Government. 

    -- Livia Esterhazy, CEO of WWF-New Zealand.

    Livia Esterhazy is available for interviews and/or comment. Please contact Media Manager Caroline Bruner at 021-550-710 to make requests. 

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