The New Zealand government has come under fire for opposing action to save the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin at the world’s largest conservation summit – with leading conservation groups calling New Zealand’s actions on the international stage ‘shameful’.
A motion to stop the extinction of the world’s rarest dolphins and porpoises, including New Zealand’s Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins and Mexico’s vaquitas, was adopted with an overwhelming majority at the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea last week.
576 IUCN members, including governments and NGOs, voted for the motion, and only two opposed*. The New Zealand government was one of them.
Maui’s dolphin or popoto (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) is the world’s rarest and smallest known subspecies of dolphin. They are a sub-species of the Hector’s dolphin. Maui’s dolphin are only found off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, and are the country’s only endemic subspecies of cetacean. As of 2012, it is estimated that 55 Maui’s dolphins exist in the world.
Barry Weeber, co-chair of the Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand (ECO), which sponsored the motion, received input on the proposal from members of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission Cetaceans Specialist Group. “Almost everyone apart from the New Zealand government wanted to see a strong resolution that recognised the threatened status of these special dolphins and porpoises.”
Karli Thomas, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, said: “Our government is letting minority business interests ride rough shod over the values of ordinary New Zealanders. By voting against this call to protect our most endangered dolphin, New Zealand has arrogantly dismissed international concern and has severely tarnished our global reputation.”
WWF-New Zealand, Greenpeace, ECO and Forest & Bird are campaigning to protect the critically endangered Maui’s and endangered Hector’s dolphins from extinction, and support the IUCN resolution that was overwhelmingly endorsed by members at the Jeju meeting.
A short video with Maui’s dolphins:
The M035 motion text urged the New Zealand Government to:
a. Urgently extend dolphin protection measures, with an emphasis on banning gill net and trawl net use from the shoreline to the 100 meter depth contour in all areas where Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are found, including harbours;
b. To increase immediately the level of monitoring and enforcement with an emphasis on requiring 100 percent observer coverage on any gill net or trawling vessels allowed to operate in any part of the range of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins until such bans can be implemented; and
c. To report such action and monitoring and enforcement results
Motions at the World Conservation Congress are important for setting policy for the IUCN, providing benchmarks conservation benchmarks for member nations.
WWF is calling on New Zealanders and people around the world to send an email to NZ PM John Key calling on him to protect Maui’s dolpins, at Save the World’s Smallest Marine Dolphin or at facebook.com/WWFNewZealand. More information about the harmful fishing methods that are being used can be found here.
The above news item is reprinted from materials available at WWF-NZ. Original text may be edited for content and length.
(Source: WWF New Zealand News, 21.09.2012; Wikipedia)