This week Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Fisheries Stewart Nash released proposals for consultation with regard to revising the Threat Management plan with the aim to further protect both the Hector’s and Māui dolphins.
“These precious dolphins are New Zealand taonga. We need to act now to ensure their populations increase and both species thrive,” says Eugenie Sage.
Hector’s dolphins are one of the smallest dolphins at around 1.4m and are nationally vulnerable with around 15,000 left in New Zealand waters. The tiny Māui dolphins which are found off the west coast of the North Island are listed as critically endangered with the estimated number remaining at only 63.
The proposal includes expanding the areas of ocean that are free of trawl nets based on both New Zealand and international expertise. Proposed extended boundaries include the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary south to Wellington and extending the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary north to Kaikōura and south to Timaru and offshore to the east 20 nautical miles.
Furthermore the proposal includes DOC developing an action plan to deal with toxoplasmosis which is a disease that can affect dolphins along with other marine mammals and advocating for riparian and wetland restoration.
Additionally, there is a proposal on a moratorium on commercial tourism permits which target the critical Māui to minimise the disturbance from boats.
“Together, they provide for the long-term protection of Hector’s and Māui dolphins and address a wide range of threats. The document recognises the need to carefully balance the proposals to protect dolphins, against the impact the changes could have on people and their livelihoods,” says Nash.
“We know people are passionate about marine mammals and there are a wide range of views out there about the best way to protect them. I encourage everyone to share their thoughts and make a difference,” Eugenie Sage says.
To find our more about the Hector’s and Māui Dolphins Threat Management Plan and to have your say click here. Submissions close 4th August 2019.