Target: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key
Goal: Ban trawlers and gillnets in all areas inhabited by the rare Hector’s dolphins in order to protect their existence.
One of the rarest species of dolphins can be found off the coasts of New Zealand. The number of Hector’s dolphins has declined sharply over the past few decades. Today only about 8,000 of them are left. Though New Zealand has taken small steps to stop the dolphins’ number one killer, commercial and recreational gillnets and trawlers, in the areas of the ocean inhabited by the dolphins, more needs to be done. Tell New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to enact comprehensive and effective fishing policies to stop any further loss of this precious species.
There are two subspecies of Hector’s Dolphins: the South Island Hector’s dolphin and the Maui’s dolphin. There are estimated to be about 100 of the Maui’s dolphins left in existence. In 1988, the government of New Zealand responded to the dwindling numbers of Hector’s dolphins by establishing the Banks Marine Mammal Sanctuary to restrict tourism and recreational and commercial trawling and gillnetting. Though the sanctuary helped the dolphin populations, it did not cover all the areas where the dolphins roam. The sanctuary off the North Island, which was closed to trawlers in 2003, is rendered less effective by the fact that trawling is only prohibited one nautical mile offshore.
The New Zealand Dolphin and Whale Trust has been critical of the current conservation efforts, saying they do not meet national or international conservation guidelines and have barely allowed populations to stabilize, let alone begin to recover. The no-trawling and gillnetting zones need to be expanded and stricter enforcement is needed. Let Prime Minister Key know before these precious, rare creatures are gone forever.
Dear Prime Minister,
New Zealand is home to one of the rarest species of dolphins in the world, the Hector’s dolphins. Since 1970, the population of these dolphins has shrunk from 29,000 to 8,000 today. There are estimated to be only about 100 left of one of the subspecies, the Maui’s dolphins. Though many factors have influenced their decline, the main culprit is commercial and recreational trawling and gillnetting. Though the government of New Zealand has made commendable efforts to stabilize the population by establishing sanctuaries for the animals and banning trawling and gillnetting, the dolphins are still losing the battle.
The New Zealand Dolphin and Whale Trust says that the current policies do not conform to international or national conservation guidelines. There are areas where the dolphins swim that are not within the sanctuary and in some places, trawling and gillnetting is only prohibited one nautical mile offshore. Because female Hector’s dolphins take nine years to reach sexual maturity and only produce one calf every few years, these animals need comprehensive protection from fishing activities if the populations are to ever begin to recover. Please review the current policies and come up with a new plan to save these animals before it is too late.
[Your Name Will Go Here]