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Significant victory for WDC in fight to save world’s smallest dolphins

Two beautiful Hector's dolphins leap just off new Zealand's coast.

A significant victory in the fight to save dolphins in New Zealand from extinction has been achieved after stricter fishing and environmental protections for the critically endangered Māui and endangered Hector’s dolphins have been sanctioned by the government.

The move comes after a long campaign by WDC and gives the Māui and Hector’s a fighting chance of survival.

Hector's and Māui dolphins are the smallest dolphins in the world. They live only around New Zealand and death in nets has driven them to the brink of extinction, killing 110 to 150 of them (probably more) every year. Their numbers began plummeting in the 1970s, as the use of plastic nylon netting rapidly expanded around New Zealand.

There are fewer than 60 Māui dolphins left and Hector's have been reduced to less than 25% of their former numbers.

WDC congratulates the New Zealand government for its decision to put in place stricter fishing and environmental protections for these endangered dolphins.

Mike Bossley from WDC said:  ‘This is a big win for dolphins and for New Zealand’s reputation as a green nation.  WDC has campaigned for Māui and Hector’s dolphins for over twenty years and, while this decision doesn’t go as far as we had hoped, it is a big leap forward.  This eleventh-hour reprieve gives the Māui dolphin a fighting chance to come back the brink of extinction.

‘More than 60,000 WDC supporters petitioned for these protections and we are delighted that the coalition government of Jacinda Ardern has listened.  We are especially pleased to see the protection of the sea around the top of the South Island, a decision backed up by data collected by members of the public using WDC’s dolphin sightings app.  This is a huge vote of confidence in the value of citizen science.’

While WDC welcomes the good news, there remain significant risks to New Zealand dolphins.  WDC will continue to work hard to get the government to take the urgent steps needed to protect dolphins in the full extent of their range and to push for an extension of protections for Māui dolphins further from the shore of the North Island.

A big 'thank you' to all of our supporters who have helped with this campaign so far.

Please donate to help us continue to fight to protect these small dolphins from death in nets.

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