There are protection measures on the West Coast of the North Island to prevent the decline of the Māui dolphin.

A Marine Mammal Sanctuary has been put in place from Maunganui Bluff to Oakura, and restrictions to set nets and trawling occurs in much of the Māui dolphin's range.

Marine Mammal Sanctuary

The West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary was first created in 2008 as a part of the Hector's and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan. Within the sanctuary boundaries restrictions were placed on seabed mining activities and acoustic seismic survey work. In 2013 the sanctuary was extended to include more of the Māui dolphin's range in the Taranaki region.

In addition to Māui dolphins, other marine mammals, including fur seals, common dolphins, and orcas (killer whales) can be found in its boundaries.

The sanctuary's boundaries are from Maunganui Bluff to Oakura Beach, out to 12 nautical miles offshore.

Non-fishing protection measures:

Summary of protection measures.
Download a high quality map of Māui dolphin protection measures (PDF, 3000K)


Three types of fishing are most likely to entangle Māui dolphins and have restrictions associated with them. These are set nets, trawls, and drift nets.

The Māui dolphin’s range overlaps with two of the Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI)’s fishery management areas:

You can also download MPI’s NZ Fishing Rules App for more information.

Set net restrictions

Set nets are fixed in place in the water, and pose the greatest fishing related threat to Māui dolphins.

  • Maunganui Bluff to Waiwhakaiho River, out to 7 nautical miles offshore, commercial and recreational set nets not allowed
  • Waiwhakaiho River Point to Hāwera, out to 2 nautical miles offshore, commercial and recreational set nets not allowed
  • Waiwhakaiho River to Hāwera, between 2 and 7 nautical miles offshore, commercial set nets not allowed unless an MPI observer is onboard

Get a map and more information on the MPI website


Trawling involves pulling a net through the water using a vessel. Hector’s dolphins have been caught in trawl nets in the South Island, and restrictions have been put in place in the West Coast NI Marine Mammal Sanctuary to prevent this from happening to Māui dolphins.

  • Trawling is not allowed from Maunganui Bluff to Pariokariwa Point, out to 2 nm offshore.
    • Additional restriction applies between Manukau Harbour and the Waikato River, where trawling is not allowed out to 4 nm.
  • No trawling is allowed in harbours along the west coast.

Drift nets

Drift nets catch marine life by drifting in or on the surface of the water. They are not attached to a vessel, point of land, or the sea.

Drift nets have been banned from the Waikato River to reduce the likelihood a net will be lost and drift out to sea, where it could entangle Māui dolphins.

Report set nets

Contact the Ministry of Primary Industries on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 4 76224) if you see set nets within the closed areas.

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