Target: John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Goal: Protect the world’s smallest marine dolphins from extinction
Fewer than 55 Maui’s dolphins over a year old remain in the wild off the coasts of New Zealand. The species is threatened by sand mining and oil drilling, but its single biggest threat is the pervasive use of certain types of fishing nets in its coastal habitat. Urge New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to prioritize the conservation of this rare and diminutive dolphin species, and enforce a ban on these fishing nets.
The Maui’s dolphin is the smallest marine dolphin in the world, and only found off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. They are a subspecies of the visually identical Hector’s dolphin, with rounded dorsal fins and distinctive black and white markings. Maui’s dolphins live close to shore, where commercial and non-commercial fisheries commonly operate. Dolphins cannot detect non-filament set nets, and these nets have been observed to trap them, leaving the dolphins susceptible to drowning as they are not able to get to the surface to breathe.
Oil and gas exploration threaten the dolphins’ coastal habitat, with sand mining destroying the coastal ecosystem, but according to a joint publication by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries and Department of Conservation, fishing-related deaths through net entanglement is “the greatest single threat to Maui’s dolphins” off the North Island’s west coast. Several dolphins were found to be killed by the fishing nets or found with net marks on their bodies, indicating an urgent need for dolphin-friendly alternatives. With only 55 Maui’s dolphins over the age of one year left, each preventable death has a major impact. None of these animals should be dying needlessly.
Urge the Prime Minister of New Zealand to protect these rare marine mammals by implementing bans on gill nets and trawl nets that threaten the species, protecting an ocean corridor from fishing nets that would allow Hector’s dolphins and Maui’s dolphins to safely interact, and stopping sand mining in the dolphins’ coastal habitat.
Dear Prime Minister,
I urge you to protect New Zealand’s iconic Maui’s dolphins from extinction. Only 55 of the world’s smallest marine dolphins over the age of one year exist in the wild, and the biggest threat to their lives is set net fishing. These dolphins cannot detect non-filament nets and are thus susceptible to being caught and drowned in gill nets and trawl nets, as they are unable to get to the surface to breathe.
Even one needless death in this small population is devastating. Time is running out, and New Zealand must take action. Ban the use of gill nets and trawl nets in the North Island coastal habitat, and require commercial and non-commercial fisheries to use dolphin-friendly alternatives. In addition, the ocean corridor between the South and North Islands must also be protected from fishing nets, so that Hector’s dolphins and Maui’s dolphins can safely mix.
Nets are not the only problem. New Zealand must also stop sand mining, and leave the Maui dolphin’s coastal habitat free of oil and gas exploration. I urge you to act now to save this rare and beautiful dolphin species.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: geoftheref via Flickr