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21, Sep, 2012

NZ govt fails Maui’s dolphins on global stage


Category: News

The government has come under fire for opposing action to save the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin at the world’s largest conservation summit – with leading conservation groups calling New Zealand’s actions on the international stage ‘shameful’.

A motion to stop the extinction of the world’s rarest dolphins and porpoises, including New Zealand’s Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins and Mexico’s vaquitas, was passed with an overwhelming majority at the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea last week.

576 IUCN members, including governments and NGOs, voted for the motion, and only two votes were opposed. The New Zealand government was both of these votes.

Rebecca Bird, WWF’s Marine Programme Manager, said, “There is overwhelming global support for the New Zealand government to take action to stop gillnet and trawl fishing threatening the survival of our endangered dolphins.

“By voting against essential protection for the world’s most endangered marine dolphin, the New Zealand government has acted shamefully and can no longer claim to be leaders in conservation. If we fail to act now, it will not be long before Maui’s disappear from our waters forever.”

Barry Weeber, co-chair of the Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand (ECO), which sponsored the motion, received input on the proposal from members of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission Cetaceans Specialist Group.  "Almost everyone apart from the New Zealand government wanted to see a strong resolution that recognised the threatened status of these special dolphins and porpoises.”

Karli Thomas, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, said: "Our government is letting minority business interests ride rough shod over the values of ordinary New Zealanders. By voting against this call to protect our most endangered dolphin, New Zealand has arrogantly dismissed international concern and has severely tarnished our global reputation.”

WWF-New Zealand, Greenpeace, ECO, Forest & Bird and the NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust are campaigning to protect the critically endangered Maui’s and endangered Hector’s dolphins from extinction, and support the IUCN resolution that was overwhelmingly endorsed by members at the Jeju meeting.

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Notes

The World Conservation Congress met in Jeju, Republic of Korea, 6–15 September 2012.

The motion passed was: M035 - Actions to avert the extinctions of rare dolphins: Maui’s dolphins, Hector’s dolphins, Vaquita porpoises and South Asian river and freshwater dependent dolphins and porpoises

Government votes: 117 yes, 2 no, 18 abstentions. NGO votes: 459 yes, 0 no, 8 abstentions.

The M035 motion text “urged the New Zealand Government to:

a. Urgently extend dolphin protection measures, with an emphasis on banning gill net and trawl net use from the shoreline to the 100 meter depth contour in all areas where Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are found, including harbours;

b. To increase immediately the level of monitoring and enforcement with an emphasis on requiring 100 percent observer coverage on any gill net or trawling vessels allowed to operate in any part of the range of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins until such bans can be implemented; and

c. To report such action and monitoring and enforcement results”

Motions at the World Conservation Congress are important for setting policy for the IUCN, providing benchmarks conservation benchmarks for member nations.

A final published version is not yet available, but the 'working' draft motion can be viewed directly at http://portals.iucn.org/2012motions/?q=M-035