The Maui’s dolphin is one of the rarest dolphins in the world, and now scientists in New Zealand are attempting to save the species from extinction.
The International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) committee has released a report in which it demands that fishing immediately be banned in waters inhabited by the Maui’s dolphin.
Conservationists call the Maui’s dolphin the “hobbit of the sea” because it is the smallest of its kind, growing to a maximum size of 1.7 meters (5.577 feet).
The Maui’s dolphin is listed as critically endangered with just 55 adults remaining in the wild. The Maui’s dolphin is found only in shallow waters off the coast of New Zealand’s north island.
Scientists for the IWC claim that the Maui’s Dolphin will be extinct by 2030 if immediate action is not taken to protect the species.
In the report, IWC officials state:
“The human-caused death of even one dolphin in such a small population would increase the extinction risk for this subspecies.”
The New Zealand government recently said it would consider the request; however, officials claim that such a move would greatly impact the local fishing industry.
The IWC notes:
“Rather than seeking further scientific evidence, the priority should be given to immediate management actions that will lead to the elimination of bycatch of Maui’s dolphins … This includes full closures of any fisheries within the range of Maui’s dolphins that are known to pose a risk.”
Animal activists claim that the failure to act by the New Zealand government would make the country only the second behind China to participate in the mass extinction of a dolphin species.
Officials warn that government officials must work quickly to ensure that the Maui’s dolphin species is protected.
Do you think New Zealand officials should compensate local fishers in order to ensure the protection of the Maui’s dolphin?