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In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail


At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

30 October, 2012

I am, generally, proud of this little country at the bottom of the globe.  I am immensely proud of the fact that so many Kiwis have tried to make up for the appalling environmental ignorance and vandalism of their predecessors.  Many thousands of people give generously of their time and money, to restore populations of endangered birds and to protect other species from the predators, so foolishly introduced.  In the past our Government have helped in this, setting aside vast tracts of land for conservation.

However the present Government seems to have no interest in anything but making money.  Not only does it want to mine coal (lignite at that!) on conservation land, it recently voted against doing anything more to help save our delightful Maui's dolphin from extinction.  These dolphin are unique to N Island, New Zealand and the threat is both unnecessary and, of course, man-made.  They have a cousin in S Island. Hector's dolphin, a cheerful and confiding little animal that bustles over to spend time with a yacht in its area, puffing and diving companionably, even when you sit at anchor:

Even the Hector's dolphin is hardly flourishing, but its poor cousin is now down to probably no more than 55 males and more are dying every year.  In nets.

I have personally written to members of the Government several times about this issue, but have only ever received an automatic reply. Our Prime Minister is also Minister of Tourism.  NZ sells itself on its 'clean, green' image.  You'd think that if nothing else, the fact that we might be the first country since China (see my earlier blog) to allow a cetacean to become extinct, would give him cause to think.  Apparently not.  If, after reading this, you feel as I do, please drop him a line and ask him to get his act together:

Maui’s dolphin is listed as critically endangered and the Government itself identified that 95% of the threat of Maui’s dolphin mortalities comes from fishing-related death, namely entanglement in nets (including set nets and trawl nets). Mining and oil activities, pollution, vessel traffic and disease constitute the remainder of the threat, on a much lower scale but still significant given the precarious state of the population.

Since the recent, alarming, population estimate there have been further deaths of Maui’s and/or Hector’s dolphins – including entanglement in fishing gear, and dead dolphins found outside the area previously protected. Reporting of dolphin deaths in fishing nets, with or without observers onboard, indicates that only around 1% of these deaths go reported. In other words, these may represent just the tip of the iceberg.

The International Whaling Commission's scientific committee, at its 2012 meeting, noted that bycatch in gillnet and trawl fisheries is the most serious threat to these dolphins, and recommended “the immediate implementation of the proposal by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries to extend the North Island protected area ..."

In September, a similar statement was made at World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In a vote, the IUCN passed an almost unanimous motion urging New Zealand  urgently to protect Maui’s dolphin.  There were 576 country and NGO votes in favour of the motion, and two votes against it. Each country member has two votes, and the two "no" votes belonged to New Zealand.  Can you believe it?  This country, that depends on green tourism voted against 576 other countires and organisations who wanted to protect our own dolphin!  It's beyond madness.

New Zealand  has brought species like the black robin and the kakapo back from the brink of extinction and is rightly proud of these efforts.  And yet now we are complacently contemplating the extinction of yet another unique species.  It's incomprehensible. 

I still mourn the Yangtze River Dolphin, an animal I never encountered.  Having shared the sea with the lovely little Hector's dolphin, I feel incredibly close to their cousins from N Island.  I can't bear the thought of their disappearing for no reason apart from apathy and ignorance.

If you want to know more about it, just Google Maui's dolphin.  You will find no shortage of information to bear out my story.


Paul said...

Annie that sounds really terrible and also quite extraodinary stance by Gov of NZ on the dolphins. Is there a very agressive fisheries lobby, organisation, minister? Surely this is an environmental issue that it would not be difficult to get a lot of people to make a noise about. Are there not any campaign sites that can help with this and reach not only the NZ population but also the world? Try Avaaz and Greenpeace. Sea Shepherds.

On another issue what is the E Coast from Christchurch to Bay of Islands like to cruise in the summer for a 22' sailboat.. madness, possible, ?

Stuart said...

Not only are we destroying the dolphin population, we are also doing our best to destroy the Toothfish in the Ross sea. It appears that ours is the only country that voted against protecting it, all in the name of profit. Hypocrisy at it's finest!

The Ratline said...

The Ratline said...

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