Help save the last Māui dolphins
New Zealand is home to one of the world’s rarest and smallest marine dolphin – the Māui dolphin. This tiny animal, measuring just 1.4 metres long is unique to our coasts and hovers dangerously on the brink of extinction – the most recent population estimate indicates only about 55 adult dolphins remain.
Human induced threats are the main problem. Boat strike, mining, construction, oil exploration, coastal development, pollution, marine tourism, marine farming and climate change are all hugely dangerous for these beautiful animals. The biggest single known threat, however, is from fishing.
Māui dolphins are particularly vulnerable to set nets, gill nets and trawling which can entangle them and cause drowning. While nets have been forbidden in some areas there are many places where Māui dolphins are still threatened by them.
Fishing regulations need to be extended immediately to cover the dolphin’s full habitat range. By reducing the risks and by taking proactive steps we can help this species recover to a safe population size.
The Department of Conservation and Fisheries New Zealand are currently seeking feedback from the New Zealand public on their proposals to manage the main threats to these dolphins.
This is our chance to show the government that cetacean protection can no longer come second to the economic interests of the fishing industry. If we don’t act now, we risk losing species from our waters forever.
Our government will only listen if there is strong public support. Together, it’s possible for us to save Māui dolphins. We urge you to take action today, by writing to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Primary Industries urging them to strengthen protection measures.
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister
Private Bag 18 888
TIP: It’s best to put pen to paper as letters have a much greater impact than emails!
Dear Prime Minister,
Māui dolphins are on the brink of extinction. New Zealand and the world need you to take action before it’s too late. Please save these beautiful animals by:
- Banning the use of set netting. South Australia, and several States in the US have already done so, and this is the only way to ensure no more Maui dolphins die in this way. Protecting just part of their habitat is not enough.
- Extending the existing trawl ban out to 100 metre water depth, or 7 nautical miles at a minimum.
- Following through with the plan to put cameras onto commercial fishing boats. This is the only reliable way to know if the regulations are working.
- Funding more research and monitoring. The more we know about the animals, the easier it will be to protect them.
- Implementing a plan for dolphin population recovery. Such a plan (similar to those for kiwi, kākāpō and other critically endangered species) will set out a comprehensive series of measures to ensure the species recovers to a viable population.
- Signpost fishing restrictions clearly both online, and in places where endangered marine species are found.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this crucial issue.
[Sign your name]