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Vic students saving the dolphins

Terra Dumont



Students of Victoria University were recently involved in a nation wide day of action to help save the Hector’s dolphins. They joined together with Otago, Waikato, Lincoln, Canterbury, Auckland and Massey Universities, along with WWF and Forest & Bird to make some noise and get thousands of petitions signed.
It was the first combined effort from SANE – Students of Aotearoa Network for the Environment, and it was driven by Victoria’s environmental group Gecko.
Hector’s dolphins are becoming extinct due to some New Zealanders’ fishing practices.
Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are the most endangered marine dolphins, and reside only in New Zealand. By using gill nets in commercial and recreational fishing, New Zealand may become the first country to knowingly allow a dolphin species to become extinct.
Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin populations have been declining steadily for years. In 1970 the Hector’s dolphin population was around 26,000. Today it is just 7000. There are only 111 Maui’s dolphins left. Due to the dolphins’ slow reproduction rate every individual that dies brings them closer to extinction.
Unlike New Zealand’s endangered birds such as the Kiwi and Kakapo, the Hector’s dolphins have little protection. To save them from extinction Forest and Bird, along with other organizations and individuals, is calling for the government to create a national gill net ban, advocate for the species in relation to the Threat Management Plan that the government is developing this year, ban trawling within the dolphins’ home ranges, and produce comprehensive proposals for the establishment of new marine mammal sanctuaries.
To become involved in the campaign, visit www.stoptheirextinction.org.nz
Gecko is also having a submission-writing workshop on the Threat Management Plan on Wednesday, September 26 from midday to 1pm in MR2 of the Student Union Building. All are welcome.