Thursday, 12 July 2012

New Zealand chastised by IWC for failure to protect world's rarest dolphins

International Whaling Commission criticises New Zealand over failure to protect Maui's & Hector's dolphins
July 2012. Hundreds of delegates from government and conservation groups are gathered in Panama at the 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) this week to discuss the future of world's whales.

Amidst the annual wrangling between pro- and anti-whaling fractions, there has also been occasion to consider the fate of the world's smallest and rarest marine cetacean, New Zealand's little known Maui's and Hector's Dolphins.
The IWC's scientific body urged New Zealand to take immediate steps to arrest the decade of decline of its only native dolphins, pointing out that current protection measures are inadequate in terms of the area and the fishing methods they cover.
Nylon nets led to edge of extinction
Since the introduction of nylon filament nets in the 1970s, Hector's dolphin numbers have dropped from 30,000 to around 7,000. The situation for Maui's dolphins, a subspecies of Hector's dolphins, is even worse. More than 94% are already lost and Maui's dolphins are now confined to very small remnant population on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. With just 55 survivors older than one year, less than 20 breeding females, and an annual decline of around three percent, Maui's dolphins are facing imminent extinction.

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