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Integrated policy needed to protect New Zealand's unique marine life (2)


14:01, April 28, 2012

McGinnis evaluated and compared planning tools being implemented in the United States, Australia, the UK and Canada and recommended New Zealand create an Ocean Science Trust to strengthen the use of science in marine planning and decision- making.

Among the range of recommendations, he said an Ocean Health Index would provide better biodiversity and marine data for the policy making process and help protect and maintain marine ecosystem services and goods.

The New Zealand government has been coming under growing international pressure to take further measures to protect the endangered Maui's and New Zealand Hector's dolphins as it seeks to open up its waters to more development.

Earlier this month, an international coalition of conservation campaigners called on the government to seek immediate action to protect two endangered dolphin species in a letter delivered to Prime Minister John Key.

More than a dozen non-governmental organizations signed the letter demanding restrictions on fishing nets.

The world's smallest dolphin, the Maui's dolphin, is the most endangered of all whales and dolphins, and it lives only in New Zealand waters.

Hector's and Maui's dolphins were primarily threatened by lethal bycatch in trawl and gill nets, but other factors, including habitat degradation, were also dangers.

Last month, the government announced it was considering further measures to protect the Maui's dolphin as fears rose for the creature's ability to survive after the Department of Conservation warned the existing population was likely to diminish.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson announced they were proposing added protection measures while a full review was carried out.

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