Image: Martin Stanley | DOC

Introduction

The plan seeks to ensure endemic dolphins are resilient and thriving throughout their natural range.

About the plan

The Threat Management Plan (TMP) is a planning framework used by DOC and Fisheries New Zealand to manage human induced threats to the dolphins.

It was developed in 2008 to evaluate and manage the risks from threats such as fishing, tourism, seabed mining, seismic surveying, vessel strike, pollution, climate change, and disease.

Fishing threats are primarily managed under the Fisheries Act 1992.

Other threats are primarily managed under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.

The TMP was reviewed in 2012 (Māui dolphin section only) and in 2019, leading to revisions to the associated protection measures in 2013 and 2020.

Vision statement and goal

The vision statement is: New Zealand’s Hector’s and Māui dolphin populations are resilient and thriving throughout their natural range.

The long-term goal for the plan seeks to ensure that: Hector’s and Māui subpopulations are thriving or increasing, supported by an enduring, cohesive and effective threat management programme across New Zealand.

Non-fishing protection measures

Toxoplasmosis Action Plan

This action plan proposes:

  • research to investigate knowledge gaps
  • research to investigate solutions to reduce or eliminate the transfer of the parasite into the marine environment
  • trial solutions to reduce or eliminate the transfer of the parasite into the marine environment.

More about the Toxoplasmosis Action Plan

Marine Mammal Sanctuaries

Five marine mammal sanctuaries have been set up to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins:

Seismic surveying is prohibited in the five marine mammal sanctuaries with the following exemptions:

  • Existing permits under the Crown Minerals Act 1991, and any subsequent permit related to an existing permit
  • Urgent hazard assessments
  • Decommissioning of infrastructure
  • “Level 3” category seismic surveys as per the seismic surveying code of conduct, and
  • Nationally significant activities that have received approval from the Minister of Conservation and the Minister of Energy and Resources

Any seismic survey that qualifies for an exemption listed above is required to comply with the 2013 Code of Conduct for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations

Seabed mining is prohibited within the five marine mammal sanctuaries with an exemption for existing permits under the Crown Minerals Act 1991, and any subsequent permit related to an existing permit.

Tourism is managed through permitting conditions applied under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992.

Fishing protection measures

Of the fishing-related threats to Hector’s and Māui dolphins, set-nets are the biggest threat.  Hector’s dolphins have also been caught in trawl nets, but this happens less often.

Set-net and trawling measures are in place around the North and South Islands to reduce the threat of fishing to these dolphins:

  • 17,530 sq km have trawl closures and restrictions
  • 31,500 sq km are closed to set-netting.

More about fisheries measures 

More about the development and reviews of the Threat Management Plan

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