Comprehensive protection required to save Hector's dolphin

Apr 08, 2013
New Zealand dolphin distribution in red. Protected areas in green.

(Phys.org) —New Zealand's heavily endangered Hector's dolphin population could recover if protection measures were extended out to 100m deep throughout its habitat, according to a new University of Otago review.

Zoology Associate Professor Liz Slooten's review into the effectiveness of area-based management to reduce dolphin bycatch found that such an approach can succeed if certain key criteria are met.

These include the protected area being large enough, in the right location and key threats being effectively managed as well as removing impacts from fishing rather than displacing them and ensuring no new threats are added (such as marine mining, generation, or pollution).

The review is published in the international journal Endangered Species Research.

New Zealand and overseas experts have urged the government to 'turn the red sea green' and protect New Zealand dolphins out to the 100 metre depth contour, throughout their distribution.

Associate Professor Slooten says that a long-term study of the Banks Peninsula sanctuary shows that protected areas, where gillnets and trawling are banned, can work.

"At Banks Peninsula, have increased by 5.4% since the sanctuary's creation in 1988, and the previously rapid population decline has slowed substantially.

"However, nationwide, Hector's dolphins continue to slide towards extinction, mainly due to continuing bycatch in areas with few or no dolphin protection measures," she says.

Examples include the lack of any dolphin protection off the South Island north coasts, and that Hector's dolphins range to 6 nautical miles off the west coast of the South Island, but protection only extends to 2 nautical miles offshore, and then only for 3 months of the year, she says.

Several scientific organisations, including the of the International Whaling Commission and the International Union for (IUCN) have recently recommended that protection be extended out to 100 metres deep in Hector's dolphin habitats.

"Most Hector's do not range beyond waters of this depth. Extending protection out to this mark would largely eliminate the currently unsustainable level of bycatch."

Explore further: Call for alternative identification methods for endangered species

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

18 endangered dolphins spotted off Borneo: WWF

Feb 07, 2012

Conservation group WWF said it spotted 18 critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in Indonesian waters off Borneo island Tuesday and called for greater protection of the species' habitat.

Taiwan group plans sanctuary for endangered dolphin

Jul 07, 2010

A Taiwanese conservation group said Wednesday it plans to set up a sanctuary for the endangered Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, using proceeds from the island's first environmental trust fund.

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

2 hours ago

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

12 hours ago

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...