Decisions relating to measures to mitigate human-related threats to Maui dolphin under the Threat Management Plan review have been announced by the Ministers of Conservation and Primary Industries, Hon Nick Smith and Hon Nathan Guy.
New protection measures being implemented
A package of measures is being implemented as part of the Threat Management Plan (TMP) review process to address research gaps and to put in place greater protection for Maui dolphin from both fisheries and non-fisheries threats.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will collectively establish a Maui dolphin Research Advisory Group, whose aim is to develop and support research priorities, communicate information, and aid community and stakeholder involvement and engagement in managing the recovery of Maui dolphin.
Fishing related measures managed under the Fisheries Act 1996 are administered by the Minister of Primary Industries. The Minister has decided to maintain all current measures, including those interim measures implemented in 2012. The Minister and MPI will also put in place measures for improving information on the level of interaction between fishing related activity and the dolphins. This will include:
- Maintaining the mandatory use of observers whilst set netting in non-restricted areas of the Taranaki coastline
- Improving information on the presence on Maui dolphin and set net activity within west coast North Island harbours, and
- Implementing an extensive monitoring program for commercial trawlers in a large part of the west coast North Island.
MPI will continue to meet the costs of the observer program on set net vessels in Taranaki to help mitigate impacts on fishers from these measures.
Non-fishing protection measures
During the TMP review process it was highlighted that oil and gas exploration, vessel strikes, and disease are the highest non-fishing related threats to Maui dolphin. The Minister of Conservation has proposed the following measures:
- Making the Code of Conduct for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations a mandatory standard by reference under section 28 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Developing a voluntary code of conduct with the inshore boat racing community to minimise the potential for vessel strike, and
- Ensuring that disease investigations are a priority in the Maui dolphin Research Advisory Group.
Additional to the TMP, the Minister of Conservation announced his decision on the proposed variation of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary. View the decision and map of the variation.
Review of Threat Management Plan cover
The review of the Maui dolphin portion of the Hector’s and Maui dolphin TMP was brought forward in 2012 after a Hector’s/Maui dolphin was found entangled in a set net off Cape Egmont, Taranaki in early 2012.
With the scheduled TMP review a year away and knowing that action was needed, the then Ministers of Conservation and Primary Industries consulted on and implemented interim protection measures in the Taranaki region and called for the review of the Maui dolphin portion of the TMP to be brought forward (i.e. fishing restrictions).
See fisheries interim protection measures implemented by MPI.
Threat Management Plan review process
A panel of experts convened over a two-day period, with stakeholders in attendance, to consider fishing and non-fishing related risks to Maui dolphin, and determine priorities for the subspecies over the next five years.
The results of this workshop were published in A risk assessment of threats to Maui dolphin (PDF, 6,850K).
DOC staff from across the North Island assessed the highest priority non-fishing threats identified in the risk assessment in order to determine regulatory and non-regulatory options to consult on for Maui dolphin management. DOC and MPI drafted the Review of the Maui dolphin Threat Management Plan. This plan was open to public consultation for seven weeks and received over 70,000 submissions.
Due to ministerial changes the announcement on the outcome of the Maui dolphin TMP review was delayed. While agencies were briefing incoming Ministers, new information became available which led to a further public submissions process on the proposed variation to the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
DOC recognises and acknowledges the public’s interest in the protection of New Zealand’s endemic Maui dolphin. New information will be posted here as it becomes available.
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