Māui and Hector’s dolphins are under threat and the Government is taking action to expand and strengthen their protection.
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash released proposals today for consultation for a revised threat management plan to protect the native marine mammals.
"These precious dolphins are New Zealand taonga. We need to act now to ensure their populations increase and both species thrive," Ms Sage says.
"Māui dolphins are nationally critical, with only an estimated 63 dolphins remaining. Hector’s dolphins are nationally vulnerable with about 15,000 in New Zealand waters."
Ms Sage says the proposals include options for an expansion of the areas of ocean free of set nets and trawl nets to protect dolphins from the risk of bycatch in fishing nets.
The Government have recently announced that cameras were being placed on commercial fishing vessels operating in the areas of highest risk to Māui dolphins.
"The proposals in the new Threat Management Plan are part of a wider and ambitious programme of change in fisheries management this year," says Mr Nash.
"Together, they provide for the long-term protection of Hector’s and Māui dolphins and address a wide range of threats."
"The documents also include proposals to extend the boundaries of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary south to Wellington and for the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary to extend north to Kaikōura, south to Timaru, and offshore to 20 nautical miles," he says in a statement.
The plan also looks at other threats that need to be dealt with to protect the dolphins including dealing with toxoplasmosis, one of the world's most common parasites, and threats from seismic surveys and seabed mining.