Measures to protect one of the world’s rarest dolphins have been denounced as a “death sentence” by campaigners.
Only 55 adult Maui’s dolphins are known to survive off the coast of New Zealand but their numbers are being threatened by fishing and disease.
The NZ government has proposed extending a protection zone to save the tiny, black and white cetaceans.
But researchers say the actions don’t go far enough and argue the Maui’s could be extinct within 20 years.
The Maui’s are the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins and only found on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
In 2012 a survey commissioned by the New Zealand government’s Department of Conservation found that there were approximately 55 Maui’s left above the age of one.
They estimated there were around 20 breeding females. These give birth to one calf every two to four years.
Conservationists say the introduction of nylon filament nets in the 1970s has been a key factor in the decline of these dolphins.
The Maui’s inhabit coastal waters up to a depth of 100 metres but have come into contact with trawlers and with fishermen using set nets which have proved particularly destructive to these animals.
The New Zealand government has recently announced new restrictions on fishing, extending the ban on the use of set nets by 350 square kilometres.
According to the conservation minister, Dr Nick Smith, the move will help reduce the biggest threat to the Maui’s.
“We are taking a cautious approach by banning set netting where there is clear evidence the Maui’s dolphins go while not unnecessarily banning fishing where they are not.”
But campaigners for the small cetacean and some conservationists are outraged by the government’s proposals, saying they amounted to a “death sentence” for the mammals.
They say that more than 75% of the Maui’s habitat still remains unprotected from set netting and trawling.
“These new measures will do nothing to stop the dolphins’ decline,” said Dr Elizabeth Slooten from the University of Otago, who has studied these creatures for 30 years.
Read more on this story here.
The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support
With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.
The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.
Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.
The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.
“While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”
There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.
This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.
Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.”
Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd
This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.
For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.
Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.
“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”
Jim Standing fourth element co-founder
Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE
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