Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Sea Shepherd New Zealand have successfully brought a lawsuit to protect the Maui dolphin.
The organizations went to the United States Court of International Trade and successfully got a ban on the import of nine fish species caught off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
Fishing these waters is one of the main causes of the dolphin decline. Scientists estimate only between 48 and 64 dolphins over the age of 1 exist. The legal action was brought against the US Commerce Department under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Commenting on the ruling, Pritam Singh, the chairman of the board and CEO of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, stated:
“The Court’s ruling sends a strong signal to New Zealand and other countries that unless they can show their fisheries regulatory program is comparable to the U.S. regulatory program, they risk an import ban. The Court found we are likely to succeed on two of our legal claims and that a preliminary import ban for these nine species was in the public interest. We agree.”
While Sea Shepherd New Zealand Managing Director Michael Lawry commented:
“This is a victory for independent science, which, in this case clearly demonstrated the technology used by the fisheries at issue – indiscriminate set nets and trawls – were putting the endangered Maui dolphin at greater risk of extinction. We’re happy the Court of International Trade recognized the urgency of this situation for the Maui dolphin and agreed with us that an import ban was legally required.”