The Conservation Minister is negligent for allowing the Government to propose opening up more of the Maui’s dolphin sanctuary to oil and gas exploration, the Green Party said today.
"If National was serious about protecting the critically endangered Maui's dolphins it wouldn't be proposing more oil and gas exploration in the part of the ocean where they live,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Kevin Hague.
Maui’s dolphin sightings from the Department of Conservation’s database mapped onto the area the Government has proposed for petroleum exploration permits, known as Block Offer 2016, shows 14 reliable sightings of Maui’s dolphins within the Block Offer area. The proposed Block Offer area covers 22 percent of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, a sanctuary which was designed to protect Maui’s dolphins.
“Maui’s dolphins – the world’s smallest and most endangered dolphin – are only found in New Zealand, and this National Government is driving them to extinction,” said Mr Hague.
“The Government already allows deadly fishing practices in the Maui’s dolphin sanctuary, and is increasing the risk to Maui’s by proposing more oil and gas exploration in their habitat.
“Today in Parliament, Nicky Wagner, who was acting on behalf of the Minister of Conservation, claimed that New Zealand has world-class regulations to protect Maui’s dolphins, but marine mammal experts believe that National’s management of Maui’s dolphins will lead to their extinction.
“The National Government has not done anything to protect Maui’s dolphins since a 2014 International Whaling Commission report which said, ‘current management situation falls short of that required to reverse the Maui’s decline.’
“The Green Party would protect the Maui’s dolphin by prohibiting new oil and gas exploration − which involves harmful seismic surveying and risky exploratory drilling − in the Maui’s dolphin sanctuary. We would also stop dolphin-killing fishing practices in areas where the Maui’s dolphins live.
“Scientists estimate that there are fewer than 55 Maui’s dolphins left in the world.
“We can’t afford to kill even one more Maui’s dolphin,” said Mr Hague.
Map showing 14 reliable Maui’s dolphin sightings in the area of their sanctuary that has been proposed for oil and gas exploration