The Department of Conservation provides quarterly updates on the number of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin deaths. Information just released, shows that 6 more dolphin deaths occurred in December 2012. This underscores concerns about unsustainable levels of human impact on New Zealand’s dolphins, with the vast majority caused by entanglement in fishing nets. Data from independent observers on fishing boats, as well as the number of dead dolphins found ashore, clearly indicate that the level of bycatch is still unsustainable.
As a result, New Zealand has come in for stern criticism at the International Whaling Commission. Why did this happen? What were the events leading up to this high-profile criticism of New Zealand’s failure to look after its endemic dolphins.
A dolphin death on 2 January, in an area where gillnets are still allowed to be used, set in motion a course of events that has kept the New Zealand Whale & Dolphin Trust very busy with public education and discussions with government and the fishing industry.