Wellington Scoop

Rally at parliament asks MPs to save threatened dolphins


News from World Animal Protection
World Animal Protection and Greenpeace today led a rally from the Department of Conservation to Parliament House to deliver submissions on the government’s Threat Management Plan (TMP) for Māui and Hector’s dolphins, on the final day of the consultation period.

Supporters gathered on the lawn at Parliament House to hear from speakers including Robyn Malcolm and dolphin expert Professor Liz Slooten from Otago University, about the significance of saving these dolphins from extinction, before handing the submissions to the Minister for Conservation, Eugenie Sage.

Christine Rose, Campaign Advisor for World Animal Protection, said:

“New Zealand is the only country in which Māui and Hector’s dolphins are found. They are our responsibility and if we don’t act now, they will be driven to extinction. This would be an appalling act of negligence, and a disaster for our international reputation and tourism industry. Extinction is forever, so the government must act now.”

Maui’s dolphins are found only in the shallow coastal waters along western shores of New Zealand’s North Island and live in waters up to 100 metres deep. This means they are at risk from inshore set and trawl nets, which target fish in the area. The government’s draft Threat Management Plan allows between 80-100 dolphin deaths as bycatch every year. World Animal Protection’s submission calls on the Prime Minister and her government to protect the dolphin’s out to 100 metres.

There are now only an estimated 57 Māui dolphins over one year old, and some of the Hector’s number lower than 50. The International Union of Conservation for Nature estimates a 74 per cent decline in Hector’s numbers over the last three generations, and a 94 per cent decline for the North Island Māui.

Earlier this month, 65 national and international organisations signed an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calling for Māui and Hector’s dolphins to be protected in the Threat Management Plan. The letter ran as a full-page advertisement in the New Zealand Herald and a separate formal letter was sent to the Prime Minister. It reflected an alliance brokered by World Animal Protection that includes scientists, an author, progressive tourism companies and both national and international NGOs.

According to recent findings from research firm Market Economics, protection of these dolphins could see the total revenue from dolphin eco-tourism grow from $21.8 million per annum in 2020 to $81.1 million per annum by 2039. Genuine protection of Māui and Hector’s will also improve the reputation of New Zealand as an environmental steward, with positive benefits for ‘brand New Zealand’.