Less than a week after the International Whaling Commission (IWC) urged the Government of New Zealand to do more to save the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin there has been a dramatic turn of events. Instead of establishing more protective measures to save this endemic species, the NZ Government have in fact opened up a potential 3,000 square kilometres of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary – the Maui dolphins home – for oil and gas drilling.
This decision demonstrates the NZ government’s complete indifference to the plight of this population of the New Zealand dolphin. At this stage however, the most important threat to these dolphins remains being caught in nets. If these are not eliminated from the dolphin’s habitat there will probably be no dolphins left by the time the oil rigs start drilling.
In the meantime, as there will be an election in New Zealand in late September, WDC is busy lobbying politicians to advocate policies designed to protect the dolphins, namely the declaration of a real sanctuary (and not one that can be opened up for industry on a whim) which provides protection from nets, oil and gas extraction, sea bed mining and other threats – let’s just hope it’s not too late.