Written by: Dr. Barbara Maas Hector's and Maui's dolphins are the smallest and rarest marine dolphins on earth and live only in New Zealand. Gillnetting and trawling have decimated these diminutive dolphins to near extinction and continue to kill them faster than they can breed.
Hector's dolphin numbers have dropped from 29,000 to around 7,000 since the 1970s. The situation for Maui's dolphins, a subspecies of Hector's dolphins, is even worse. With just 50 survivors, Maui's dolphins are facing imminent extinction.
Despite these low numbers, the New Zealand government is refusing to protect the country's only native dolphins against fishing nets. Less than 20 percent of the dolphins' home is protected against set nets and less than 10 percent against trawling, which simply isn't good enough to prevent their extinction. Experts have called for a ban of these fishing measures across the dolphins' habitat for more than three decades. But the New Zealand government isn't listening and the fishing industry denies all responsibility.
Each year there are fewer dolphins left. How many more have to die before the New Zealand government acts and protects their entire habitat from harmful nets?