Four new marine sanctuaries for dolphins
22 Oct 2008
New Zealand’s unique Hector's and Maui's dolphin populations will enjoy greater protection in four new marine mammal sanctuaries due to come into effect tomorrow (23 October 2008).
The new sanctuaries are in areas where the endangered dolphins spend most of their time - on the North Island's west coast, and in the South Island at Clifford and Cloudy bays in Marlborough, Porpoise Bay / Fortrose on the Catlins coast, and Te Waewae Bay on the South Coast.
There are also changes to the boundaries of the existing sanctuary at Banks Peninsula.
Maui's dolphin is declared as 'nationally critically endangered', while the Hector's dolphin is considered 'nationally endangered'.
"Hector's and Maui's are national treasures and we are very lucky to have them in our waters - we are the guardians of our children's heritage and we want to do ensure these beautiful mammals do not become extinct," said Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick when announcing the sanctuaries' establishment.
"Hector's dolphins are very special creatures - they are the world's smallest and rarest dolphin and are only found in New Zealand."
Threat management plan
The new sanctuaries are part of a threat management plan for the two species which has been jointly developed by New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Ministry of Fisheries. The plan aims to halt the decline and aid the recovery of these dolphins.
"The draft plan sets an international benchmark in managing risks to marine mammals. The protection offered by these new sanctuaries is complemented by the fishing measures being introduced by the Minister of Fisheries," the minister said.
The plan was developed after extensive consultation with iwi (Māori tribes), recreational and commercial fishers, scientists, conservation groups, the tourism industry and the public.
Mining and acoustic seismic surveying restrictions apply in the sanctuaries, but all methods of fishing are allowed apart from those prohibited under NZ fisheries legislation.
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