Idealog - - IDEALOG / KIWIBANK -

It’s not just fresh­wa­ter species on our is­lands that need help, with the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered Maui's dol­phin hav­ing a pop­u­la­tion of only 63 adults.

Over the last 10 years, re­stric­tions have been placed on set nets, trawl­ing and drift nets, and a marine mam­mal sanc­tu­ary has been es­tab­lished on the west coast of the North Is­land. A num­ber of con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions have run cam­paigns rais­ing aware­ness about the dol­phins, and The En­dan­gered Species Foun­da­tion of New Zealand are cur­rently work­ing with the fish­ing in­dus­try to change to dol­phin-safe fish­ing tech­niques.

Se­nior tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sor Mike Thorsen says it was only in 2002 that sci­en­tists re­alised the Maui's dol­phin was a dis­tinct sub­species from the Hec­tor’s, and that it was crit­i­cally en­dan­gered.

“Con­ser­va­tion in the sea is very dif­fi­cult be­cause there are so few an­i­mals in such a large area where we can­not look eas­ily.”

He says New Zealand has long been a world leader in con­ser­va­tion and he thinks we still are.

On a day-to-day ba­sis, he says the key ac­tions we can take are re­cy­cling plas­tics, keep­ing wa­ter free of pol­lu­tants, ri­par­ian plant­ing, tak­ing only what we need, and sup­port­ing con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing coun­cils and the Govern­ment.

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