MPs given petition with 100,000 signatures asking to save last dolphins

News from WWF-NZ
At Parliament today, senior politicians were presented with a petition signed by over 100,000 people demanding action to save the last 55 remaining Maui’s dolphins.

“Tens of thousands of New Zealanders, and thousands more from all corners of the globe, have spoken out for the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin. It’s time for our leaders to listen,” said WWF-New Zealand’s Executive Director Chris Howe.. “We will not stay silent and watch the last 55 Maui’s slip away.”

The politicians were presented with their own individual t-shirt with the slogan ‘100,000 and me, saving the last 55’ in the symbolic handover.

Directly addressing representatives from National, Labour, the Green Party, and New Zealand First (1) Chris Howe said, “It is a sobering thought that there are two MPs for every Maui’s left on the planet. You have both the responsibility and the opportunity to save these dolphins from extinction.

“The science tells us what is needed – to get the nets out of the waters wherever they swim. Fishing communities should be helped to transition. It is the political will that is lacking.”

WWF welcomed statements from the Green Party, which launched its policy today, and the Labour Party, both of whom made a firm commitment to extending protection for Maui’s in line with international scientific recommendations and providing transitional support for fishing communities. New Zealand First also expressed support for increased protection and helping affected fishers.

The main cause of the Maui’s decline is accidental drowning in fishing nets, which are currently still allowed in the majority of their North Island west coast habitat. Other risky activities threatening the dolphins’ survival include seismic surveying for oil exploration and mineral mining.

Singer/songwriter Jamie McDell responded to news of the dolphins’ plight in 2011 by writing a song for Maui’s ‘Without A Voice’, which she performed today. She is one of a number of high-profile New Zealand musicians, artists, and sports people that have backed WWF’s campaign (2).

A Colmar Brunton poll released one month ago showed 60 per cent of New Zealanders are more likely to vote for parties that will expand the ban on set nets and trawl nets across Maui’s range.(3)

“The government has been woefully inadequate at protecting Maui’s, despite overwhelming public support for action and strong recommendations from the world’s leading whale and dolphin scientists. It must act decisively,” continued Mr Howe.

“New Zealand has a proven track record of protecting our most endangered native species when it comes down to the wire. Maui’s can be another Chatham Island black robin or kakapo success story, but only if we come together as a nation at this critical time.”

Ends

Notes

1) Nicky Wagner, Associate Conservation Minister; Moana Mackey, Labour’s Environment spokesperson; Metiria Turei, Green Party co-leader; Andrew Williams, Conservation spokesperson for NZ First spoke at the event.

2) Acclaimed novelist Witi Ihimaera helped launch The Last 55 campaign in May. Other celebrities who have spoken out to help save Maui’s since then include rugby players Brad Shields, Reggie Goodes and Mike Kainga , musicians Iva Lamkum, Sam Flynn Scott (Phoenix Foundation), Bella Kalolo, Myele Manzanza, actors Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Jonny Brugh (What We Do In The Shadows), and Miranda Harcourt, and sustainable business entrepreneur Laurie Foon.

3) Colmar Brunton polling, released 25 June 2014. http://www.wwf.org.nz/media_centre/news/?11921/New-Zealanders-will-vote-to-protect-Mauis

 

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