The intent of the code of management is to protect and ensure the long-term sustainability of marine mammals and other wildlife in the Doubtful Sound complex / Patea, specifically bottlenose dolphins.
Research indicating a serious decline in the bottlenose dolphin population of Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, led the Department to run a public consultation process during 2007 to address this issue. After significant stakeholder and community involvement, the Department of Conservation has published the Marine mammal (and other wildlife) code of management.
While a voluntary code of management is not the highest level of protection that could be put in place to increase the protection of the bottlenose dolphin population, these voluntary measures are seen as being able to be implemented immediately and have the support of the affected parties.
The code of management forms only one part of the strategy to increase the protection of the Doubtful Sound / Patea bottlenose dolphin population along with monitoring, research, education and increasing public awareness. This increased protection will be achieved through reducing the number and duration of dolphin-vessel interactions occurring.
New dolphin protection zones have been established in certain parts of the Doubtful Sound complex and are areas which extend 200m from the shore where motorised vessels are not permitted. If dolphins are not visible within this zone, entry is permitted by the most direct route for reasons such as viewing of shore features, access to anchorages or diving/fishing spots, or for agency management work.
Also, the code of management outlines that dolphin encounters within Doubtful Sound are now to be left to chance. This means encounters initiated by dolphins are permitted but vessels should not deviate from their intended route for the purpose of encountering dolphins.
Map of the Dolphin Protection Zone in Doubtful Sound - Fiordland (PDF, 429K)