The Threat Management Plan options do not go far enough. We need a bolder option to save Māui and Hector’s dolphins. So, New Zealand’s most trusted environmental NGO joined forces with two of the country’s most prominent commercial fishing companies to respond to the Threat Management Plan, proposing a solution which protects Māui dolphins while taking care of those affected by changing the approach to fishing.
With New Zealand’s native Māui dolphins – some of the rarest in the world – on the verge of extinction, the action announced today by the three partners provides a bold new way to address the desperate situation.
“The four options, presented by the Government simply do not go far enough. We knew it was essential for all of us to work together to find a better, bolder way to save Māui dolphins. Option 5 was born through our careful collaboration,” says WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy.
“We believe it’s not enough to just adequately protect our dolphins. We must also protect our people, industry and communities. Option 5 ensures the people, impacted by the necessary changes to protect dolphins, are protected too.”
Created in partnership by Sanford Ltd, Moana New Zealand and WWF-New Zealand with support from the Endangered Species Foundation, Option 5 builds on the success of the Moana and Sanford Māui Dolphin Protection Plan which they established in 2016.
Grant Leach, Co-Chair, Endangered Species Foundation says, “Option 5 is the best option for Maui dolphin protection. In our opinion, the other four options do not fully address all the issues required to protect New Zealand’s number one most endangered species from extinction.
“We came on board, to collaboratively work, with WWF-New Zealand because we see that the future of endangered species management is with groups working together to develop effective and workable solutions that can deliver results in the timeframes required.”
Sanford Limited CEO Volker Kuntzsch says the welfare of Maui dolphins is a top priority for New Zealand’s biggest seafood company.
“We believe the worst thing that can happen at Sanford is a human fatality and the second worst would be the death of a Maui dolphin. We have been focused on reducing the risk to these precious animals for many years now and the TMP process has provided us with an opportunity to refresh and expand the work we are doing, and the commitments we have made.”
Moana New Zealand CEO Steve Tarrant says “Option 5 is the start of an action plan the Government can put to immediate effect and has the potential to put New Zealand in a world-leading position. Our measures to protect both dolphins and people go further than ever before.”
These management measures are primarily focused on the critically endangered Māui dolphins, but WWF believes these solutions will also positively benefit Hector’s dolphins, as well. This includes:
- implementation of new systems to help gather the much needed data and information while allow for real-time information sharing and best practice decision making;
- new practices the Option 5 fishing partners are ready to roll out across their fishing vessels and their contractors to integrate management and science so as to reduce any residual risk to Māui dolphins; and
- implementing new dolphin-safe education programs to compliment those already running in aquaculture hosted by DOC to ensure our teams on the water are as well-trained, correctly informed and highly skilled in dolphin-safe fishing as possible.
- Addressing Toxoplasmosis. Creating critical research infrastructure to tackle the effects of Toxoplasmosis on dolphins and people.
WWF-New Zealand’s CEO says including people into the plan was essential.
“WWF’s mission is to enable people to live in harmony with nature. Option 5 is about people as much as it is about dolphins. Lives are at stake – the lives of these rare dolphins and the lives and livelihoods of people. Every decision made by the TMP will impact businesses, communities, iwi, hapu, whanau, and individuals. Therefore, we have no choice but to move forward with a plan which addresses the needs of all of those affected.”
Mr Kuntzsch says the ‘Option 5’ submission has been the result of a great deal of hard work.
“We are very proud of what has been produced and the way in which Moana, WWF and Sanford have worked together to do it. The final document captures the essence of what we believe needs to be done and in some areas it stretches our comfort zone in order to find a compromise between all three parties.”
Steve Tarrant acknowledges that some people may find the partnership response to the TMP a surprise, but says he believes it is the best way to make progress.
“We absolutely believe it is only when we work together that we can achieve what we need to make change. We are making a big commitment here and the focus is on both protecting Maui dolphins and people. We are not trying to tell the rest of the industry what to do, but we hope that our actions will reduce the risk to dolphins.”
Mr Kuntzsch agrees.
“This process required courage and compromise, but we believe what we have come out with in the end is a positive way forward for the protection of New Zealand’s rare dolphins and also of the people who fish near where these dolphins are found. As Livia has said, both need to be taken care of and that’s what we are striving to do. WWF and Moana share the core values we have at Sanford – we all approached this exercise with plenty of passion, care and integrity and with a focus on doing the right thing both on the water and on land.”
About the Threat Management Plan process:
The Threat Management Plan (TMP) proposed options were launched by the Government in June 2019. These options were the government’s suggested solutions to save Hector’s and Māui dolphins, among the world’s rarest mammals, from a range of human-induced threats. They identified these threats to include: fishing, seismic surveying and the disease toxoplasmosis. The TMP will change the way we manage the threats facing Hector’s and Māui dolphins.
Per MPI the options include:
- extending current restrictions on trawling and set netting in areas where Hector’s and Māui dolphins live
- increasing the boundaries of marine mammal sanctuaries
- placing further restrictions on seismic surveying and seabed mining in areas where Hector’s and Māui dolphins live
- developing an action plan to address the threat from the disease toxoplasmosis, which has emerged as a significant human-induced threat.
The consultation process closed 19 August 2019. Responses to the consultation process will now be under consideration by the Government.