Monday, 11 July 2016

IWC demands action on rare New Zealand dolphin

July 11, 2016

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has called on New Zealand to take urgent action to save the world's rarest dolphin from extinction, voicing "grave concern" about its future.

Population numbers of the Maui's dolphin, the world's smallest and scarcest sub-species found only in waters off New Zealand's North Island, have dwindled to less than 50, prompting fears it could reach the point of no return without strong action, including a ban on fishing in its habitat.

The IWC, in a report released over the weekend, said not enough was being done to prevent the dolphins becoming "bycatch" to the commercial fishing industry.

"The IWC scientific committee expressed continued grave concern over the status of this small, severely depleted sub-species," it said.

"Existing management measures in relation to bycatch mitigation fall short of what has been recommended previously."

The IWC said Wellington had been saying since 2013 that it was researching the issue, but it had not taken any steps to rectify it.

Barbara Maas, an endangered species specialist with conservation group NABU International, said the New Zealand government had repeatedly ignored the IWC's concerns.

"The science is clear, if nothing is done then the Maui's dolphin is gone," she told AFP.

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