More concerns have been raised over the government’s failure to meet election promises for protection of the endangered Hector’s dolphins and critically endangered Māui dolphins. This follows the release of new data that shows how active the dolphins are around the top of the South Island.
In the 2017 election, the government made manifesto promises to protect them, but has done very little since.
There are fewer than 60 Māui dolphins left, and the Hector’s population is down to just 20% of its former size, with set-netting and trawls in coastal regions killing these dolphins at a rate that could see them wiped out forever.
Woefully inadequate protected areas for the dolphins were designated in 2008 but did not include the highly important Cook Strait and Taranaki Bight areas. Lack of data cited as the reason.
Now, data collected by the Hector’s Dolphin Sightings App, shows a five-fold increase in sighting records for Hector’s dolphins around the top of the South Island. This indicates the top of the South is an important habitat for Hector’s dolphins and should be protected from set nets and trawling. The Hector’s dolphin sighting database has jumped from 45 to 227 sighting events around the top of the South, since the app was launched less than two years ago, in partnership with WDC and the Department of Conservation (DOC).
People have been encouraged to download the app and record their sightings of Hector’s, Māui dolphins, and other species, and upload images to help species identification.
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