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Labour’s Tourism spokesperson Rino Tirikatene is urging New Zealanders to have their say on the urgent interim measures proposed to save the critically endangered Maui dolphin – an iconic taonga species.
The North Island Maui dolphin is a close cousin to Hector’s dolphins which are found in South Island coastal waters. These tiny mammals play an important part in our eco-tourism industry, which is a key driver for drawing tourists from around the world to NZ, he says.
Mr Tirikatene says the slow Government response to the threat of extinction of Maui dolphins in recent years is unacceptable and he endorses the call for immediate action to save the unique population which scientists estimate may only number 50 or so in total.
“Submissions on MAF consultation over interim set net measures to manage the risk of Maui’s dolphin mortality close today at 4pm, and I hope New Zealanders will voice their concerns,” Rino Tirikatene said.
“The dolphin mortality in a commercial set net off Cape Egmont in Taranaki in January this year – outside the current set net fishing closure area and the existing Marine Mammal Sanctuary - highlighted the urgent need to extend protection across Maui dolphin’s habitat.
Submissions on the Department of Conservation proposed interim extension of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, and an extension of the seismic survey regulations within the sanctuary, close at noon on 19 April 2012.
“I will be making a submission to DOC on this issue. Our international reputation as a nation which treasures its special natural environment and fauna is really at risk here,” Rino Tirikatene said.