More than 30,000 people from the US, Canada, Europe and Asia have flooded Prime Minister John Key’s inbox with emails asking him to ‘do everything in your power’ to save the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin.
Top US surfer Laird Hamilton and Kiwi pro-surfer Maz Quinn are among the tens of thousands who have been moved to speak out on behalf of New Zealand’s critically endangered Maui’s dolphin.
“It is evident that people across different cultures and continents are moved by the plight of New Zealand’s unique dolphins. Within weeks of launching our new online campaign, many thousands of people from around the world had emailed the Prime Minister asking him to stop the extinction of Maui’s dolphins”, said WWF-New Zealand’s marine programme manager Rebecca Bird.
“We hope the fantastic global response means the message is getting through to our government that while Maui’s live only in New Zealand’s coastal waters, people from Abu Dhabi to Auckland, Madrid to Melbourne, Washington to Wellington are demanding action to save this iconic animal. The world is watching.“
Maz Quinn, four times national surfing champ, is supporting the campaign. He says: "As a surfer, I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the waves. New Zealand's coasts and wildlife are special and unlike anything else in the world. It is shocking that our Maui's dolphins are now on the brink of extinction, and it's really important that Kiwis speak out now for their protection before it is too late."
The latest government research reveals there are now just an estimated 55 critically endangered Maui’s dolphins over the age of one remaining.
“Scientists believe it is possible to pull Maui’s back from the brink of extinction, but only if all human threats removed throughout their range,” said Ms Bird. “The government has just announced it is reviewing protection measures for Maui’s, so this is a critical time for people around the world to speak out on behalf of the rarest marine dolphins on Earth.”
The main cause of the dolphins‘ decline towards extinction is entanglement and drowning in fishing nets. The government has banned trawl and gillnet fishing in some parts of Maui’s habitat, but areas of their habitat remain unprotected. Other threats include pollution, boat strike, coastal development, and sand mining.
Government commissioned science indicates that we can only afford to lose one Maui’s dolphin at the hands of humans every 10 to 23 years without impacting on the population’s ability to recover.
“People around the world, including many New Zealanders, are united in calling on the New Zealand government to save Maui’s dolphins. If we fail - and become the first country in modern times to let a marine dolphin go extinct on our watch - New Zealand’s international reputation as clean and green could be in tatters”, said Ms Bird.
“WWF calls on Mr Key to leave a different legacy – one which ensures Maui’s dolphins live protected in our waters for future generations of New Zealanders to take pride in.“