Funeral procession for Maui's dolphin

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 15:33 04/12/2013
ALEX LIU/Fairfax

Wellington protesters speak out for the endangered Maui's Dolphin.

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A funeral procession for the critically endangered Maui's dolphin arrived on the steps of Parliament, to protest "woefully inadequate" protection of the species.

It is thought there are only 55 of the dolphins left in the world, and they found only off the West Coast of Taranaki.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced proposals in September, to extend the set net fishing ban off the coast of Taranaki in an effort to protect the rare and endangered species.

Commercial fishers have claimed the rules would spell the end of the fishing industry in the region, but protesters have said the measures don't go far enough.

The proposed Waitara set net fishing ban extension is from Pariokariwa Pt to Waiwhakaiho River in Taranaki and covers an area of 350 square kilometres.

Currently set netting is banned within 3.7 kilometres from the shore, and is only allowed  between 3.7km and 13km offshore with an observer on board.

At today's protest, people donned black clothing and carried coffins as they proceeded down the main streets of Wellington in a funeral march for the dolphin.

The protest was held by the Maui's and Hector's Education/Action group and the Berlin-based Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union.

Organiser Christine Rose said the protected area should be increased.

"The Minister of Conservation has done as little as possible to protect Maui's dolphins, while the government continues to promote risky practices in the dolphins' habitat such as seismic testing for sea bed mining and deep sea drilling," she said.

"By failing to protect the whole Maui's habitat, this Government has pushed back Maui's chance of recovery. It's another tolling of the bell."

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- The Dominion Post

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