AboutZoos, Since 2008


New Zealand govt fails Maui’s dol­phins on global stage

pub­lished 23 Sep­tem­ber 2012 | mod­i­fied 05 Decem­ber 2012

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 dolphinMaui’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.

There is over­whelm­ing global sup­port for the New Zealand gov­ern­ment to take action to stop gill­net and trawl fish­ing threat­en­ing the sur­vival of our endan­gered dol­phins. By vot­ing against essen­tial pro­tec­tion for the world’s most endan­gered marine dol­phin, the New Zealand gov­ern­ment has acted shame­fully and can no longer claim to be lead­ers in con­ser­va­tion. If we fail to act now, it will not be long before Maui’s dis­ap­pear from our waters forever.
Rebecca Bird, WWF’s Marine Pro­gramme Manager »

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 motion adopted was: M035 — Actions to avert the extinc­tions of rare dol­phins: Maui’s dol­phins, Hector’s dol­phins, Vaquita por­poises and South Asian river and fresh­wa­ter depen­dent dol­phins and por­poises (*Gov­ern­ment votes: 117 yes, 2 no, 18 absten­tions. NGO votes: 459 yes, 0 no, 8 absten­tions).

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 face​book​.com/​W​W​F​N​e​w​Z​e​a​l​a​n​d. 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)

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