US court decision shows need for stronger protection of Māui dolphin

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

A decision by a United States Court to ban seafood imports from New Zealand shows the Government needs to do more to protect Māui dolphins.

“The first step the Government should take in the wake of this decision is to phase out trawling and set netting throughout all Māui dolphin habitat and range on the North Island’s West Coast. This would both help safeguard Māui dolphins and our seafood exports,” says the Green Party oceans and fisheries spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“Right now, there are an estimated 48 to 64 Māui dolphins left in New Zealand waters – and one of the biggest threats they face is fisheries bycatch.

“The United States Court of International Trade has today banned imports of snapper, tarakihi, gurnard and other fish caught in Māui dolphin habitat because New Zealand is not applying similar protections to those in place in U.S. waters for critically endangered marine mammals.

“The Court decision highlights that New Zealand’s Marine Mammal Protection Act is weaker than its U.S. equivalent.

“Unlike in the U.S. there is no requirement to reduce the numbers of accidental deaths or injuries of marine mammals from commercial fishing, or action to ensure the Māui dolphin population can recover within a defined period.

“The review of the Threat Management Plan for Māui and Hector’s dolphins last term doubled the size of our marine mammal sanctuaries and extended the area where dolphins were safe from set netting and trawl netting.

“But as this court decision shows, we need to do more to ensure that our Māui dolphins are able to thrive. The Government needs to act to phase out trawling and set netting throughout the entire Māui dolphin habitat to protect dolphins and market access for seafood exports,” says Eugenie Sage.

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