Maui's and Hector’s dolphins
Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are among the world’s rarest and smallest dolphins. They are an inshore coastal species with a limited home range. They are found only in New Zealand’s waters.
The Hector’s dolphin species is estimated to number around 8,077. It is divided into two sub-species—the Maui’s and South Island Hector’s dolphins.
The Maui’s dolphin sub-species lives around the North Island’s west coast. It is estimated there are only about 111 dolphins left. The Department of Conservation (DoC) classifies them as “nationally critical”.
The South Island Hector’s dolphin sub-species live in three geographically distinct groups around the South Island. It is estimated about 89 dolphins live on the south coast, 2,600 on the east coast and about 5,388 on the west coast. DoC classifies them as “nationally endangered”.
Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins live for only around 20 years and breed slowly. Females don’t have their first calf until they are about seven or eight years old, and have a new calf only every two to four years. This means the species may be threatened by even occasional deaths caused by human activity.
Fishing is the greatest known human threat to Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins—responsible for about 75 per cent of reported deaths with a known cause. Set nets are the main fishing threat. Dolphins can get entangled in the fine nylon nets and drown. However, there have also been reports of dolphin captures in trawl nets.
Other human threats include marine tourism, vessel traffic, mining, construction, coastal development pollution, sedimentation, oil spills, plastic bags, marine farming and climate change.
CURRENT AND FUTURE MANAGEMENT
A range of restrictions on commercial and recreational fishing are currently in place to manage fishing-related mortality of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins. An overview of the management can be found here:
Management of Hector's and Maui's Dolphins Fact Sheet
Interim set net measures in the Taranaki area to protect Maui’s dolphins
Interim set net restrictions for commercial and recreational fishers are currently in place in the Taranaki area, from Pariokariwa Point to Hawera, to protect Maui’s dolphins. The restrictions will stay in place while the Maui’s dolphin component of the Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan (TMP) is reviewed and the nature of future possible measures is decided.
The Minister’s decision letter provides the details of, and reasons for, his decision.
Taranaki Set Net Prohibition Notice
Download Minister’s Decision Letter (PDF 1.45MB)
Download Final Advice Paper Part One (PDF 4.72MB)
Download Final Advice Paper Part Two (PDF 3.32MB)
Download Consultation Paper (PDF 470KB)
Reconsideration of Amateur Set Net Regulations to Manage Fishing-Related Threats to Hector’s Dolphins within the Defined Area of the ECSI
Ministry Press Release - 14 October 2011
Download Ministers Decision Letter (PDF 169KB)
Download Final Advice Paper (PDF 1.32MB)
Download Submissions Document (PDF 6.00MB)
Download Initial Position Paper (PDF 409KB)
Reconsideration of Measures to Manage Fishing-Related Threats to Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphins - March 2011
Ministry Press Release on management measures for Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins
Minister’s decision letter on management measures for Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins (PDF 1.49MB)
Download Final Advice Paper (Reconsideration of Measures to Manage Fishing Related Threats to Maui's and Hector's Dolphins) (PDF 2.92MB)
Download Appendices - Hectors Maui's Dolphin FAP (PDF 1.38MB)
Download Initial Position Paper (PDF 1.3MB)
THREAT MANAGEMENT PLAN
The new fishing prohibitions and restrictions are part of a Threat Management Plan (TMP) coordinated by MPI and DoC.
Public and government concern over the effect of human-induced mortality on Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins led to the development of a TMP that MFish and DoC released for public consultation in August 2007. (Note: MFish ceased to exist in July 2011, and MPI now has responsibilities for fishing legislation.)
- examined all known threats to the dolphins, including fishing, boat strike, noise, pollution, mining, climate, and tourism (experts on dolphins and people from all interest groups were involved in the development of the draft TMP)
- outlined strategies to reduce human-induced threats – including fishing threats.
This link – Threat Management Plan – takes you to the series of consultation and advice documents that led to the government’s decision to introduce new fishing prohibitions and restrictions to protect Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins. This link also provides access to the regulations for the new prohibitions and restrictions.
The Department of Conservation is focusing on managing non-fishing threats identified in the TMP. Go to the Department of Conservation website for more information.
The plan is to eventually combine the new fishing prohibitions and restrictions, as well as the non-fishing measures, into a comprehensive Threat Management Plan.