Two Hector's dolphins
Image: Dina Engel and Andreas Maecker | ©

Introduction

A list of events that have taken place to understand and protect Māui and Hector’s dolphins since Māui were declared a subspecies in 2002.

2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2016 | 2013 | 2011 | 2008 | 2006 | 2003 | 2002

2021

Hector’s and Māui dolphin Research Strategy 2021 created to support the vision and goals of the Hector's and Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan (TMP).

Hector's and Māui dolphin Research Strategy 2021 (PDF, 712K)

2020

November

Changes to five marine mammal sanctuaries and the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary came into effect on 5 November.

Variations to marine mammal sanctuaries.

October

The new measures to restrict commercial and recreational set-net and commercial trawl fishing announced in June 2020 took effect.

Information about these measures, including maps.

September

The Minister of Conservation gazetted the final changes to 5 marine mammal sanctuaries and the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary.

Variations to marine mammal sanctuaries.

June

After considering feedback from the public consultation, the Minister of Fisheries announced new fishing measures to take effect in October 2020. These were to:

  • restrict commercial and recreational set-net and commercial trawl fishing off the west coast of the North Island
  • restrict commercial and recreational set-net fishing off the north, south, and east coasts of the South Island.
  • prohibit drift netting in all New Zealand waters.

Information about these measures, including maps.

The Minister of Conservation announced her intention to vary five marine mammal sanctuaries and the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary, to increase protection for the dolphins.

Variations to marine mammal sanctuaries.

2019

Possible measures to reduce risks to the dolphins were released for public comment:

2018

A review of the Hector's and Māui dolphin threat management plan began. An extensive research, risk assessment and evaluation process was developed and completed in 2019.

Archive of 2018/19 review workshops and stakeholder forums.

2016

December

A study commissioned by DOC and the Ministry for Primary Industries reported that there were likely to be 63 adult Māui dolphins remaining, with 95% confidence that the number of dolphins over 1 year old was between 57 and 75. The study used the same methodology as the 2010–2011 abundance survey. 

Māui dolphin abundance estimate.

2013

November

The Minister of Conservation, along with the Minister for Primary Industries, announced that the proposed variation would be implemented in full, alongside a package of protection measures to be implemented as part of the Māui threat management plan review. The package used legislation from the:

  • Marine Mammals Protection Act (1978)
  • Fisheries Act (1996).

This included maintaining the interim protection measures from 2012.

October

Submissions on the consultation to vary the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary closed.

Proposed variation to the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

September

The Minister of Conservation announced his intention to consult on varying the Marine Mammal Sanctuary to include extra protection measures for Māui dolphin in the Taranaki region and seek submissions on his proposal.

Review of the Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan: Consultation Paper.

2012

November

Submissions on the Review of the Māui's Dolphin Threat Management Plan closed.

September

Risk assessment of the threats to Māui dolphin was published.

A risk assessment of threats to Māui dolphin (PDF, 6,850K)

A consultation paper for the review of the Māui's dolphin threat management plan was published by DOC and MPI. This review process aimed to reassess management measures based on updated information on:

  • the Māui dolphin population
  • human-induced threats
  • their vulnerability to those threats.

Review of the Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan: Consultation Paper.

August

The Minister of Conservation and the Minister of Energy and Resources launched the code of conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic surveys operations.

The new code was more stringent than the previous guidelines and the marine mammal sanctuary regulations. It afforded increased protection to Māui dolphin by identifying their entire historic range out to water of 100 m depth as an area of ecological significance, which triggered additional mitigation measures.

An updated literature review for Māui dolphin was published.

An updated, annotated bibliography for Hector’s (Cephalorhynchus hectori hectori) and Māui (C. hectori maui) dolphins (PDF, 2,240K)

July

New interim fisheries restrictions in southern Taranaki came into effect on 28 July. They were intended to increase protection for Māui dolphin in this area while the threat management plan was being reviewed.

Interim set-net measures to protect Māui's dolphins.

June

An expert panel was brought together for a Māui dolphin risk assessment workshop. The results of the workshop informed the development of the options for Māui dolphin within the threat management plan consultation document.

April

Submissions sought by DOC and MPI in relation to establishing interim measures to protect Māui dolphin in Taranaki.

Proposed interim extension of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

March

A DOC-commissioned study on Māui dolphin reported that there may be around 55 adult Māui dolphins remaining, with 95% confidence that the number of dolphins over 1 year of age is between 48 and 69.  

Māui dolphin abundance estimate.

January

Bycapture of a Hector's or Māui dolphin reported off the Taranaki coast.

Dolphin incident database August 2011 to July 2012.

2011

Commercial set-netting restrictions as proposed in 2008 were reinstated after the original decision was reconsidered.

2008

2008 set net prohibition area.
2008 set net prohibition area. View a detailed map (PDF, 390K)

Submissions from the public and stakeholders regarding the threat management plan were analysed by DOC and MPI. Based on these submissions, a range of conservation actions were proposed and implemented to manage fishing and non-fishing threats:

  • The West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary was established, with restrictions on seismic surveying and seabed mining.
  • The area where set-netting and trawling are banned was increased, but commercial fishers challenged this decision.

2007

The Hector’s and Māui's Dolphin Threat Management Plan (TMP) was developed by DOC and the Ministry of Fisheries. Its purpose is to recognise human-caused threats to Hector’s and Māui dolphin and to come up with strategies to minimise or remove the threats. The TMP also sets out to identify research and monitoring to help Hector’s and Māui dolphin. 

2006

University of Otago researchers estimated the population of Māui dolphin as 111 (95% confidence interval of 48–252) based on extensive aerial surveys.

Māui dolphin population estimate.

2003

Set-net controls to protect Māui dolphins were introduced by the Ministry of Fisheries on the west coast of the North Island.

2002

The West Coast North Island population of Hector’s dolphin is formally described as a new sub-species called Māui dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori maui.

Geographical variation in Hector's dolphin: Recognition of new subspecies of Cephalorhynchus hectori.

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