The International Whaling Commission is calling on the government to stop commercial fishing with set nets and trawling in the range of Maui dolphins.
In a report released today, the whaling commission warned that it holds “grave concerns” for critically endangered Maui dolphins.
Forest & Bird marine conservation advocate Anton van Helden says there are only about 63 Maui dolphins in the world, so the message from the whaling commission urgently needs to be heeded.
“New Zealand is usually on the side of whales and dolphins with our decades-long call to end whaling, but this time it’s the International Whaling Commission telling us to sort ourselves out,” says Mr van Helden.
“It’s time to stop fishing activities that pose a risk of endangered dolphins being caught as bycatch in set nets in New Zealand waters.
"This is a clear message from the International Whaling Commission to save the Maui dolphins by closing the set net and trawl fisheries that are a threat to them. With approximately 63 dolphins remaining there’s no room for delay or error."
Last year, the whaling commission issued recommendations about how New Zealand could prevent Maui dolphins from becoming extinct. These included “closures of any fisheries within the range of Maui dolphins that are known to pose a risk of bycatch to dolphins (i.e. set net and trawl fisheries).”
This year, the commission has raised concerns about how the government has assessed the risks to dolphins and again urged the government to close the set net and trawl fisheries where Maui dolphins are found.
Forest & Bird has just launched a petition calling on the government to put in place a zero bycatch goal to protect threatened species from commercial fishing. The petition asks the government to stop harmful fishing activities in the habitat of Maui and Hector’s dolphins.
More than 6000 people have signed the petition in its first week.
“People are frustrated at the lack of meaningful fisheries regulation and the harm to our dolphins and other unique sea life and marine habitats,” says Mr van Helden.
See the main report, pages 48 and 49 and Annex J pages 11 to 13.