Save Maui and Hector's dolphins now!

  • by: Barbara Maas
  • recipient: New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister for Primary Industries Stuart Nash, Minster of Conservation Eugenie Sage, New Zealand

Hector's and Māui dolphins are the smallest and rarest marine dolphins on earth and New Zealand's only native dolphin species. Fishing with gillnets and trawl nets has killed them almost to the point of extinction. Commercial and recreational fishing is decimating Māui and Hector's dolphins because less than a fifth of their habitat is protected. Both subspecies inhabit coastal waters up to a depth of 100 metres: Hector's primarily around the South Island and Māuis mainly off the west coast of the North Island.

Hector's and Māui dolphins have suffered devastating declines since the 1970s. Just 10,000 Hector's dolphins survive – a mere third of the original population. Although there are only around 50 Māui dolphins left on earth, fishing with gillnets and trawl nets is permitted across 81% and 95% of their habitat respectively. The dolphins' extinction is inevitable under these conditions. Māui dolphins have become so rare that they can only cope with a single death due to human activities every 10-23 years. Yet fisheries bycatch alone kills an estimated 3-4 individuals each year. That's over 54 times more than the sustainable limit.

Saving Hector's and Māui dolphins is a race against time.

Māui dolphins are on the very cusp of extinction. Just 13 of the last surviving 50 individuals are females that are old enough to breed. At least one of these females died last year – she was about to give birth. We cannot lose another one! Many Hector's dolphin populations around the South Island, too have become dangerously small and are at risk of being wiped out. At least two have been reduced to 45 individuals or less, and one, off the north coast of the SouthIsland is down to around 200.

Gillnetting and trawling throughout the dolphin's habitat needs to be stopped now!

The world's largest conservation assembly, the IUCN World Conservation Congress, has urged the New Zealand Government to protect Māui and Hector's dolphins against gillnetting and trawling throughout their range, to a water depth of 100 m off shore. The move was supported by 576 government and NGO votes in favour. New Zealand alone voted against it. Māui and Hector's dolphins can't hang on much longer. They need protection now!

The New Zealand government is reviewing the way Māui and Hector's dolphins are protected right now. Therefore, this is the perfect time to take a stand and ask New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern to extend the protection of Hector's and Māui dolphins throughout their habitat. It's the only way to save them.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW and sign this petition to let the New Zealand Priminister Jacinda Ardern know that you want her to protect Hector's and Māui dolphins now.


Dear Prime Minister,

Hector's and Māui dolphins are declining because of insuff icient protection from gillnetting and trawling. Although only an estimated 50 Māui dolphins survive, just 19% and 5% of their habitat is protected from gillnetting and trawling respectively.

I therefore urge you to bring protection measures for New Zealand's only endemic dolphins into line with international scientifi c advice by creating a contiguous protected area for Māui and Hector's dolphins to a water depth of 100 m, where commercial and recreational gillnetting and trawling, seabed mining, petroleum exploration, drilling and production is prohibited. It is the only option than can save the dolphins from extinction and allow their numbers to recover.

Thank you from NABU International, The New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust and Sylvia Earle's Mission Blue Alliance
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