Image: Martin Stanley | DOC


The threat management plan is a planning framework to manage human-caused threats to Hector’s and Māui dolphins.

Download the threat management plan

Hector's and Māui dolphin threat management plan 2020 (PDF, 1,248K)

About the threat management plan

Vision and leadership

The vision of the Hector’s and Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan is to ensure these dolphins are resilient and thriving throughout their natural range.

The plan is led by DOC and Fisheries New Zealand. DOC is responsible for managing the dolphin populations while Fisheries New Zealand is responsible for managing the impacts of fishing on the dolphins.

Plan development and review

The plan was developed in 2008 in response to public and Government concern about the effect of human-caused deaths on the dolphin populations. The Māui dolphin component was reviewed in 2012 and the whole plan was reviewed in 2019/20.

Changes from the 2019/20 review

In 2020 as a result of the review, variations to 5 marine mammal sanctuaries and the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary were introduced to provide greater protection for the dolphins. New fishing measures were also introduced:

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

Timeline of protection events for Māui and Hector's dolphin.

Marine mammal sanctuaries

Marine mammal sanctuaries are designed to protect marine mammals from harmful human activities. Commercial fishing and some types of recreational fishing are prohibited in some sanctuaries. Seismic surveying and seabed mining are also prohibited, with some exemptions.

The threat management plan recommended extensions to two existing sanctuaries – West Coast North Island and Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuaries.

See boundaries and details about the restrictions related to these sanctuaries:


Set-nets are the most significant fishing-related threat to Hector’s and Māui dolphin. Hector’s dolphins have been caught in trawl nets, but this happens less often than in set-nets. Restrictions to trawling, and areas closed to set-netting and trawling, have been put in place to protect the dolphins.

Fishing restrictions and closed areas.

Toxoplasmosis action plan

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite from cats that enters the sea via streams and stormwater. It is a known threat to both Hector’s and Māui dolphins.

The toxoplasmosis action plan is part of the threat management plan and aims to address this threat. It includes research about the parasite, pathways of transmission, management approaches and trials of methods to reduce or prevent the parasite entering the sea.

Toxoplasmosis action plan

Hector’s and Māui dolphin Forums

The North Island and South Island Forums will be jointly convened by DOC and Fisheries New Zealand to:

  • gather input and undertake discussions on progress in implementing the TMP and associated research priorities
  • provide a platform through which DOC and Fisheries New Zealand can communicate annual plans and proposals to achieve the TMP objectives
  • facilitate the exchange of information, concerns, ideas and perspectives.

The North Island Forum will focus on Hector’s and Māui dolphin issues around the North Island, and the South Island Forum will focus on Hector’s dolphin issues around the South Island.

View Forum documents including terms of reference and meeting presentations:

North Island forum documents

2021 meetings (ZIP, 7,786K)

2022 meetings (ZIP, 7,898K)

2023 meetings (ZIP, 4,410K)

Forum terms and reference (ZIP, 194K)

South Island forum documents 

2023 meetings (ZIP, 3,681K)

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