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Protect South Island Hector's Dolphins

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

Fisheries New Zealand wants your feedback on the proposed measures to further protect the South Island Hector's dolphins. The consultation closes at 5 pm on the 6th of December 2021.

The proposed fisheries measures to further protect South Island Hector's dolphins within the north, east, and south coasts are:

  • a "bycatch reduction plan" to work with fishers to avoid all dolphin mortality while allowing fishing to continue where possible

  • an expansion of trawl gear restrictions (low headline height trawl net or slow tow speed or both) in Tasman and Golden Bays, Pegasus Bay, Canterbury Bight to Timaru, and Te Waewae Bay

  • a further area closure to commercial and recreational set net fishing around the Banks Peninsula.

Below is an easy way to make a submission. Copy and paste the following message with your name added to


Tēnā koe,

I call on the NZ Government to honour its election promises to protect Hector’s dolphins.

Hector’s dolphins, Pahu* are taonga. They are treasures indigenous to Aotearoa. They live in whānau (family) and hapū (extended family) groups. Every individual is precious to their pod.

Hector’s dolphins used to be the most common dolphin seen in coastal waters. Around 40,000 Hector’s dolphins have been caught by fishing nets since the 1970s. When dolphins are caught in nets, they panic and drown with immense suffering. Dead dolphins have been found with rake marks on them, from other dolphins trying to rescue them.

Many local populations have less than 50 individuals and are critically endangered like Māui dolphins.

Dolphin catches need to be stopped now. This is essential to:

- enable Hector’s dolphins to recover

- repair public confidence in the NZ fishing industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries

- restore the mauri (life-force) and wairua (spirit) of coastal ecosystems

The NZ Government should financially support the fishing industry to transition to more selective, sustainable methods that don’t catch dolphins. This would also solve the bycatch problems of so many other protected species – sea lions, seabirds, penguins, other dolphins – and stop wasting many tonnes of fish.

In the meantime, cameras are essential for all inshore set net and trawl vessels, with independent and transparent monitoring that detects all dolphin bycatch.

All local populations of Hector’s need to be considered all around the South Island including Marlborough Sounds, all along the West Coast and the East Coast of the North Island – these areas are currently excluded from further protection measures.

Ngā mihi nui,



References and important links:

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