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Protect Hector's Dolphin

“The New Zealand Minister of Fisheries has asked for public comment on the management of the North Island Hector’s dolphin.

Hector’s dolphin is an endangered species, only found in New Zealand. The North Island population is very small (most likely fewer than 100 individuals) and has recently been listed as critically endangered on the international Red List of threatened species.

The North Island population is declining due to bycatch in gillnets.

A sustainable level of bycatch would be about one dolphin every 5 years. A meeting of fishers, conservation groups, scientists and government officials (in Wellington in May 2000) agreed that bycatch should be reduced to zero, to allow the population to recover. The only effective way to achieve this would be to avoid overlap between dolphins and gillnets.

North Island Hector’s dolphins are found between Maunganui Bluff (north of Dargaville) and New Plymouth. To reduce bycatch of Hector’s dolphins to sustainable levels, it would be necessary to avoid gillnetting and trawling for this whole area, out to at least 4 nautical miles offshore.

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BEFORE 17 APRIL 2001, please write to the Ministry of Fisheries, encouraging them to provide effective protection for Hector’s dolphin, calling for a protected area, without gillnetting, from Maunganui Bluff to Pariokariwa Point, about 40 km north of New Plymouth. This includes about 90% of the Hector’s dolphin habitat off the West Coast of the North Island

Commercial fishers using trawling and Danish seining would be required to carry observers, video cameras or other means of detecting dolphin captures.

A protected area, with no gillnetting (and preferably no trawling) is the most effective way of protecting Hector’s dolphin from bycatch in fishing gear.

Stronger measures could include:
* Extending the protected area further south, to include the area from Maunganui Bluff to New Plymouth, to 4 nautical miles out to sea
* Banning trawling as well as gillnetting in the protected area
* Efforts to reduce pollution

You can send your letter by post to:
Ministry of Fisheries, Box 3437, Auckland

Or by email to:

Stephan Whelan
Stephan Whelan
Stephan is the Founder of His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans. In 1996 he set up and has grown the site to be the most popular diving website and community in the world.