The Hector’s dolphin is found in the South Island

Protect our dolphins

by Ann van Engelen

DOC and Fisheries New Zealand are seeking feedback on the plan to protect Hector’s and Maui dolphins, and due to a large response, the time frame for submissions has been extended to 10 am, Monday, August 19.

Hector’s and Maui dolphins are unique marine mammals found only in New Zealand waters. These species live close to the coast, making them particularly vulnerable to human activities.

Their numbers have been dwindling, and there are estimated to be only between 57 and 75 Maui dolphins above the age of one year left in existence. They are classified as nationally critical under the New Zealand Threat Classification System. There are around 15,000 Hector’s dolphins, and they are classified as nationally vulnerable.

Alongside fisheries impacts, such as trawling and set nets, there are several other threats to these dolphins, including disease, seismic surveying, seabed mining and vessel-based tourism.

The consultation is on a range of options to improve the way threats to Hector’s and Maui dolphins are being managed by the Hector’s and Maui Dolphin Threat Management Plan. The proposals have been put together using the best available information.

To have your say on the options for protecting Maui dolphins in the North Island and three options for protecting Hector’s dolphins in the South Island from fishing related threats complete the online survey at doc.govt.nz/dolphintmp.