The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has agreed to list the Maui Dolphin as Endangered and the South Island Hector’s dolphin as Threatened on the US Endangered Species Act on October 19th.
Consultation on the proposal took place last year and WDC was one of the organizations that wrote in support while at the same time highlighting the ongoing and emerging threats to the two species from activities such as the potential offshore expansion of renewable energy facilities.
Bycatch is currently the major threat to both species and with fewer than 50 Maui dolphins remaining they could become extinct within the next 15 years.
The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides for the listing of species outside US boundaries as a mechanism to ensure that US trade and US citizens do not contribute to the further decline of an imperiled species. The ESA allows for international consultations and can provide a mechanism for supporting the conservation for global species. Sadly, this landmark legislation has been under attack by some in Congress and the current US Administration. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, at least 46 bills have been proposed in Congress, just this year, aimed at weakening the ESA. As part of a coalition of US conservation and animal welfare groups, WDC is working to maintain the protections afforded to species by the ESA and the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.