New Zealanders are more likely to vote for political parties if they are committed to protecting Maui's dolphins, according to a new poll.
A Colmar Brunton poll released today by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) shows 60 per cent of New Zealanders are likely to vote for parties that would push for restrictions on set nets and trawl nets.
The WWF says set and trawl nets pose a threat to the critically endangered subspecies.
The poll shows the dolphin issue won't affect 23 per cent of people's vote, while 10 per cent said they were unsure and 7 per cent were less likely to vote for parties that would protect Maui's dolphins.
Maui's dolphins are the rarest subspecies of dolphin, with numbers estimated at 55 in the wild. Their habitat covers the west coast of the North Island. They have been seen between the Kaipara Harbour in Northland and Waikato's Raglan Harbour.
The Government recently opened up oil exploration in a marine sanctuary off the coast of Taranaki, an area where there had been reported sightings of the dolphins.
The Greens opposed the Government's decision, saying they would expand protections, including further restrictions on dolphin-lethal fishing methods in the Maui's sanctuary.
Labour has also indicated it would pursue policies to protect the dolphins. Leader David Cunliffe said he initially opposed oil exploration in the Maui's habitat, but later said he would support it if "done responsibly".
The poll found 51 per cent were more likely to vote for parties that support fishers to use dolphin-friendly practices, while 27 per cent of those surveyed said it wouldn't affect their vote.
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