Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC has put in place a 12-month moratorium on issuing new permits to view or swim with marine mammals in the Marlborough Sounds, and Cloudy and Clifford bays.

Date:  14 July 2017

The moratorium means there will be no increase in commercial operations to view dolphins, whales or seals, or swim with dolphins or seals.

DOC’s Sounds Operations Manager David Hayes says the moratorium is designed to give DOC time to analyse current commercial activity levels.

“The moratorium will allow us to consider what level and kinds of activity are appropriate, as well as identify any research required to assist with this,” says David Hayes.

“Marlborough Sounds commercial operators already have a strong ethos in protecting marine mammals. Most commercial skippers have attended DOC’s ‘SMART’ training programme, which educates skippers on best practice for boating around marine mammals.

However, with the projected increase in tourism over the coming years, we need to maintain a cautious approach and look at what steps may be needed to improve the management of marine mammal watching to ensure it’s not having any adverse effects on marine mammals.”

The moratorium has support from iwi and many tourism operators who see the benefit in protecting marine mammals, particularly dolphins, from over-exposure to human interaction.

 “We are also focussing on the effects of non-commercial interactions with marine mammals. Dolphins, whales and seals are all at risk from all boats not following the rules around marine mammals. We need to do all we can to ensure people can enjoy these locals without harming their health.”

New Zealand’s Marine Mammal Protection Regulations (1992) governs commercial operations and behaviour of all people around any marine mammal.


David Hayes, Sounds Operations Manager
Phone: +64 3 520 3002

Back to top