New Zealand has protect the dolphins’ habitat from harmful fishing nets
Classified “critically endangered”, the Maui dolphin endemic to the west of New Zealand, is on the edge of extinction.
According to new estimates just 43-47 individuals, including about 10 mature females, are left.
The study is being presented at a meeting of the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in San Diego, US.
“These new figures are a loud wakeup call: New Zealand has to abandons its current stance, which places the interests of the fishing industry above biodiversity conservation, and finally protect the dolphins’ habitat from harmful fishing nets, seismic airgun blasts and oil and gas extraction,” said Dr Barbara Maas, Nabu’s head of endangered species conservation.
Unless this happened, Dr Maas said the dolphin’s extinction was ”a matter of when, not if”.
Gillnets or trawling would kill five Maui’s dolphins each year
The Maui’s dolphin is a subspecies of Hector’s dolphin that only lives in shallow coastal waters off New Zealand’s North Island; the other subspecies of Hector’s dolphin is found around the South Island and is more abundant.
In 2012, a government appointed Panel of Experts determined that gillnets and trawling kill five Maui’s dolphins each year. Dr Liz Slooten from the University of Otago estimates that extensions to fisheries exclusion zones introduced since then reduce the level of Maui’s dolphin bycatch to 3.28 – 4.16 individuals per year – 54 times the sustainable limit.
In 2010/2011 an estimated 59 individuals remained, which fell to 43-47 in 2014/2015.