Hectors Dolphin Campaign Update
When we launched our campaign to support WWFs Hectors Dolphin Challenge we hoped that we could make a worthwhile difference in 3 key areas:
- Direct contributions to WWF specifically aimed at research, education and action to help save the Hectors Dolphin.
- Raising awareness among our clients of the issues surrounding both the Hectors Dolphin and New Zealand wildlife in general.
- Encouraging our suppliers to also stand up and contribute to a worthwhile cause.
Whenever you make a purchase from us – be it a little Tivoli Radio, or a complete system to the value of NZ$ 600 or more – you will get a free Hectors Dolphin. Or to be more specific, a WWF Hectors Dolphin adoption kit in which you’ll find a certificate, information and a cute and furry little Dolphin. You can go on-line and give your dolphin a name. And we pay WWF for every dolphin adoption kit we give away.
The adoption covers 12 months and we’d like to think that because our clients care about the world around them, you’ll choose to continue to help the dolphins after 12 months have passed.
We choose to support WWF because they are both active and effective. They support communities to take action to protect and manage their local environment. For the last 30 years, WWF has worked with industry, government and schools, educating, lobbying and delivering positive action to make a difference.
In May 2008 the New Zealand Government announced new protection measures.
Go to our May 2008 Press Release page to read about this inititive and WWF’s response. You’ll read why we need to continue our efforts to save the Hector dolphin from extinction, even with these measures in place. They involve the closing of various parts of the New Zealand coastline to fishing. Some believe that these measures are not enough but acknowledge that it is a big step forward. On the other hand some commercial fisherman have declared their livelihoods at risk. Hence, along with the Seafood Council they have been granted interim relief by the High Court on September 26, 2008 forestalling the October 1 2008 enforcement of the Ministry of Fisheries’ Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan. It is fair to acknowledge the conservation practices commercial fisherman already carry out. The Seafood Council argues that much of what the research thus far shows is unproven. There is however, no doubt the Hector Dolphin is a very threatened species and time is not on their side. We will loose our unique dolphin if we do not take further conservation measures. Clearly to do this all New Zealanders must be confident of what the studies show. Each Dolphin pack we give to you with your purchase helps towards continued research. We appreciate your understanding and help with our Hector Dolphin campaign.
WWF has supported Otago University to complete a 3-year aerial survey programme on Hector’s dolphin at Banks Peninsula In this update we report on the results of this programme.
The main aim of the aerial survey was to determine the distribution of the dolphin population, in particular how far offshore they are found and whether this changes seasonally. It’s important to find out exactly where the dolphins are during summer and winter to assess whether the current Banks Peninsula set net protection out to 4 nautical miles offshore is sufficient to allow recovery of the local population.
Findings of the survey
- 20% of Hector’s dolphins are found outside the the Banks Peninsula marine mammal sanctuary in summer.
- 66% of Hector’s dolphins are found outside the Banks Peninsula marine mammal sanctuary in winter.
- In summer, dolphins are concentrated close to the coast in shallow water (less than 20 m deep).
- In winter, dolphins are much more spread out, further from the coast and in deeper water (most common in water 20-50 m deep).
Results indicate that Hector’s dolphins continue to be vulnerable to bycatch outside the sanctuary all year round, but particularly in winter.
Recent research suggests that the Banks Peninsula population of Hector’s dolphins is still declining. This important aerial survey has shown that extensions of the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary are needed if the population is to recover. Research indicates that Hector’s dolphin distribution is most likely determined by water depth and the distribution of their prey. So boundaries of protected areas must be decided according to water depths in the region.
The survey results will directly feed into the government’s new initiative to develop the first ever Hector’s dolphin management plan. These findings will play a vital role in shaping protection for Hector’s dolphin at Banks Peninsula.
Over the last thirty years New Zealand has lost on average 570 endangered Hector’s dolphins a year, that’s over 5,000 deaths each decade. In November 2004, a group of New Zealand’s leading environmentalists and scientists challenged the government to urgently take action to stem the decline. The group includes WWF-New Zealand, Forest and Bird, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Project Jonah, the UK-based Care for the Wild International, and Auckland and Otago Universities.
The group met for a groundbreaking workshop at the Treehouse, Wellington, in late October and is deeply concerned about the fate of the dolphin. They are calling for the government to establish an action plan for the recovery of the species within six months and then to move rapidly to implement the plan.
Chris Howe, the WWF-New Zealand Conservation Director, chaired the meeting. “We looked at the overall challenges facing this species and their devastating effects. We worked out that Hector’s dolphin is on a steep downward curve that may result in extinction without immediate action. Not only are dolphins continuing to die in fishing nets – population models indicating 257 deaths in 2004 – but they are becoming isolated, their food and habitat is declining, and they are living in increasingly polluted waters.”
Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell, said “an action plan for the recovery of the species is urgently needed to address the causes of the dolphin’s decline. This will need to include ending fishing related by-kill, protecting their habitats and reducing marine pollution. Dolphins have a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders, but if Hector’s dolphin keep declining the way they are now, they will fade into the past just like the huia and the moa.”
The government has never developed an action plan for the recovery of any marine species, despite there being a requirement under legislation. The group says that the action plan for the recovery of Hector’s dolphin must set an ambitious vision, both in terms of numbers and range, restoring the species to around 16,000 by 2025 and 20,000 by 2055. The plan needs to be visionary, and include all sectors of society in its preparation and implementation. The group pledged its support for development and implementation of the plan.
Research shows that even if all available actions were implemented today, by 2055 the population would still be smaller than it was in 1970. Every day that passes makes it more difficult for the species to recover. Hector’s dolphin is found only in New Zealand and its numbers have reduced from an estimated 26,000 in 1970 to around 7,300 today. Its main threat is from fisheries by-catch. The species is classified as endangered. A sub-species, Maui’s dolphin, of which an estimated 111 remain, is restricted to the West Coast of the North Island. It is classified as critically endangered.
We’d like to think that you will buy from us simply because we offer you the best products, good value for money and help you with worthwhile information. But if we can also do something worthwhile along the way it is a good thing, and in a world of rampant consumerism this might appeal to you. Even if you don’t make a purchase from us – why not take up the challenge of helping the Hector’s Dolphins – just click on the picture below to find out more.