"Let's Face It" Visual Petition campaign submission

Dear Sir / Madam,

I (Peggy Oki) submit on behalf of over two thousand citizens of New Zealand and around the world, calling upon the New Zealand Government to protect Maui's & Hector's dolphins. The photos on the link below represent the support of these 'signatories' for this cause. On 3 April 2012, printed posters representing over one thousand persons were hand-delivered to the offices of Honourable John Key, Prime Minister; Honourable David Carter, Primary Productions Minister; and Honourable Kate Wilkinson, Conservation Minister.

Maui’s dolphins have experienced a dramatic decline and range contraction since the1970s. With more than ninety percent of their kind already lost, they have been reduced to a small, remnant population of some 55 individuals off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island and face imminent extinction.

The observed population crash coincides with the introduction of nylon filament fishing nets in New Zealand. Since then more than 25 years of research, as well as the government’s Draft Threat Management Plan, have identified fishing, specifically with gill and trawl nets, as the main cause of mortality for Maui’s dolphins. It is therefore the prime factor obstructing Maui’s dolphin recovery.

Maui’s dolphins number just 55 individuals older than one year, down from their previous estimate of 111 in 2005. This number equates to less than 20 females capable of reproduction.

The government’s new Maui’s dolphin abundance estimate report suggests an annual population decline of some three percent. This means that even more Maui’s dolphins will have died since the research was carried out in 2010/11.

In their severely depleted state, the sustainable number of dolphin deaths is in the order of one individual every 10 years. However, we know of at least two Maui’s dolphin fatalities in the past six months. As most deaths go unreported and unrecognized, these incidences provide only a glimpse of the true number of fatalities.

Faced with this most precarious situation, all represented in this submission feel strongly that this public consultation itself is the cause of further unnecessary delays. Implementing immediate remedial emergency measures, provided for under the Fisheries Act, would have been a far more fitting course of action.

To protect such a tiny population, it is imperative to act immediately and to remove all avoidable human impacts. Fishing can continue in the area, using selective, sustainable fishing methods that do not endanger dolphins (including fish traps and hook and line methods).

Swift, decisive and uncompromising action is required to prevent any further fatalities amongst the last individuals so they have a chance of returning from the very brink of extinction. Every day the animals are exposed to gill and trawl nets carries a risk we simply can’t afford. If ever there was a time to act, it is now.

We strongly urge the New Zealand Government to protect Maui's and Hector's dolphins within the full extent of their range as detailed below.

  • base all Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphin management decisions and policies on the best available independent scientific information;
  • develop science-based, measurable and testable management targets for the recovery of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin;
  • implement full protection measures against fisheries by-catch off Kaikoura, Timaru and Taranaki to ensure there are no further avoidable deaths;
  • eliminate the use of commercial and recreational set nets and trawling within harbours, throughout the range of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, out to the 100m depth contour, and with a safe passage or genetic bridge to the South Island Golden and Tasman Bay areas;
  • implement a comprehensive, scientifically sound fisheries observer programme and boost policing of the protection measures;

The impending extinction of Maui’s dolphins is of global concern. It is also avoidable if your government acts now in line with your obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity's Strategic Plan for 2011-2020. Failure to do so will forever tarnish New Zealand’s reputation as an environmentally responsible nation in the eyes of the world.

Please accept the individuals represented on this link as signatories to this submission.

http://www.lets-face-it-dolphins.com/visual-petitions

Sincerely,

Peggy Oki
“Let’s Face It” Founder & Director

Cc: Honourable John Key, Prime Minister
Honourable David Carter, Primary Productions Minister
Honourable Kate Wilkinson, Conservation Minister


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