"New Zealand has a clear choice to make. We can change the way we do things and save Māui dolphins, or we can be the generation that allows them to go extinct," Forest & Bird says of DOC and MPI’s just released Threat Management Plan proposals.
“We need to make significant changes to ensure Hector’s dolphins don’t get into the same state as Māui dolphins,” Forest & Bird Marine Advocate Anton van Helden says.
"While the Government’s zero bycatch ambition for Māui and Hector’s dolphins is encouraging, there are significant gaps even in their best proposals which need to be addressed.
“The main direct threats to these dolphins are set netting and trawling, so Forest & Bird completely supports extending exclusion zones throughout Māui and Hector’s habitat.
“The proposal does a good job of offering protection over the core area of Māui dolphin habitat from trawl and set net fishing, but even the best options in the management plan limit these extensions. The proposal also makes huge exemptions for oil exploration and mining - even inside marine reserves.
“Species must not go extinct in pursuit of mineral extraction profits. More work must go into managing non-fisheries threats, to reduce the cumulative impact they have on these dolphins.
“South of Dunedin, there are no new restrictions trawling or set netting, so local populations of Hector’s dolphins will continue to be at risk of drowning in commercial nets. These populations are already so depleted any accident in a net will be catastrophic for local sub-groups.
"Forest & Bird’s Zero Bycatch campaign is having a huge response from the New Zealand public, so we are really pleased the government has also adopted this approach for Hector’s and Māui dolphins. We hope to see more on zero bycatch for other species in the future.”