Petition seeks protection for dolphins
The Maui dolphin, which is only found along the west coast of the North Island between Dargaville and Hawera, is slipping closer to extinction.
The dolphins are only found in New Zealand waters and are the world's smallest dolphin.
A recent University of Auckland and the Department of Conservation report says there are only 55 Maui dolphins left. A previous study in 2005 estimated there were 111.
New Zealand free-diving world champion William Trubridge has launched a campaign to save the species.
Mr Trubridge is calling for international tourists to write to Prime Minister John Key to say they will cancel planned trips to New Zealand until the Maui dolphin is given sufficient protection.
"Should we lose such a rare example of life's wonders forever it would be a black mark on our name as stewards of this planet," he says.
Mr Trubridge filmed a video, which has been viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube, asking New Zealanders to pressure the Government to do more to protect the dolphin.
He urges people to sign an online petition to ban trawling and gillnets in the dolphins' swimming area, including harbours and out to a depth of 100 metres.
Ken Inder of Auto One: Fishing and Camping/Gas in Dargaville says he'd like to see trawlers banned out to 100 kilometres.
"You see trawlers out there all the time but they're not local, they come up from Auckland and Taranaki," he says.
The New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust is fully in favour of the ban.
To achieve recovery within 50 years would require a ban on gillnet and trawl fisheries throughout the known habitat of Maui dolphin from Maunganui Bluff to Cape Egmont, regardless of the distance offshore or the water depth, their website states.
World Wildlife fund communications manager Rosa Argent says we need to "live dolphin friendly lives" and ban gill nets.
About 100 people marched through Kumeu and Huapai last week to highlight the plight of Maui dolphins.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? Report sightings to 0800 4 MAUIS hotline. Speak out. Write to the prime minister. The submission period has closed but you can still write. Visit change.org/petitions/maui-s-dolphin-submission and use the petition letter.