Introduction

Another possible Māui dolphin death in Northland this month highlights the pressing need for greater protection. The Northland Conservation Board is urging Northlanders to have a say in ensuring the survival of this critically endangered species.

Date:  18 September 2013

"Another possible Māui dolphin death in Northland this month highlights the pressing need for greater protection," says Northland Conservation Board Chair Mita Harris. "We are urging Northlanders to have a say in ensuring the survival of this critically endangered species."

The dolphin was found on 13 September on Ripiro Beach near Dargaville. "We are now awaiting the formal identification and autopsy report", says Mr Harris. "If it's confirmed to be a Māui dolphin, we'd be saddened, and the loss would be dreadful. With an estimated population of just 55 adults, we cannot afford to lose even just one more of these precious mammals."

Only a week ago, the Minister of Conservation proposed additional protection for Māui dolphin with a 350 square kilometre extension to the set net fishing ban off the coast of Taranaki.

Set netting involves laying a fine nylon net up to three kilometres long and 10 metres deep along the seabed, typically overnight. The danger for Māui, who rely on echolocation for navigation, is they cannot detect these fine filaments and can become entangled in the nets, and drown. 

The Northland Conservation Board applauds the Minister's position to safeguard the future of Māui and is urging Northlanders to check out the Minister's 'Proposed variation to the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary'. "We are asking Northlanders to make submissions," says Mr Harris. "Go online and make a difference now!"

Mr Harris explained that there are reported sightings of Māui dolphin on the west coast of the North Island between Maunganui Bluff and Taranaki, but that their key habitat is right here in the Northland and Auckland regions, between the Kaipara and Raglan Harbours.

"We can be proud to have the world's smallest and rarest dolphin in our Northland waters, but we could potentially lose Māui in our lifetime if we don't change our attitudes towards our natural world."

"New Zealanders proved they are passionate about the protection of Māui dolphin when they made 70,000 submissions on the draft Threat Management Plan published last year."

The proposed extension of the set net ban within the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary is made under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and is open to submissions on the DOC website until 10 October 2013.


Related links

Contact

Mita Harris
Northland Conservation Board Chair
Phone: 027 584 4332

Jeannie Hogarth
Board Support Officer
Phone: +64 9 470 3352

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