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Hector’s and Māui dolphins threat management plan review


9 July 2020 - Proactive release of Cabinet papers and related documents

The Minister of Fisheries was provided advice from Fisheries NZ on options to manage the effects of fishing-related mortality on Hector’s and Maui dolphins as part of a revised Threat Management Plan. A range of additional advice papers are also being considered for proactive release.

Economic advice

Fisheries NZ commissioned independent advice from NZIER on the economic impacts of restrictions on commercial fishing to reduce risks to Hector’s and Maui dolphins.

Cabinet paper and appendices

The Minister of Fisheries advised Cabinet on the fisheries measures he considered necessary to support a revised Hector’s and Maui Dolphin Threat Management Plan. The minister also informed Cabinet of his intention to publicly consult on additional measures to address risks to Hector’s dolphins in the South Island where those measures are outside the scope of the consultation that was undertaken in 2019.

Associated documents

B20-0147 – Update Cabinet paper Dolphin Threat Management Plan – Significant change and Implementation advice [PDF, 990 KB]

AM20-0221 – Supplementary Information for the Revision of the Hector’s and Māui dolphins Threat Management Plan [PDF, 870 KB]

B20-0253 – Proposed Transition Support for permit holders and licensed fish receivers impacted by new measures to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins [PDF, 2.3 MB]

B20-0347 – Hector’s and Māui dolphin transition support package for commercial fishers [PDF, 1.5 MB]

AM19-1078 – Draft Cabinet Paper on fisheries measures for Hector’s and Māui dolphins [PDF, 806 KB]

B20-0117 – Updated Draft Cabinet paper for Hector’s and Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan – Fisheries Measures [PDF, 2.5 MB]

B19-0477 – Hector’s and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan: Key themes from submission and next steps [PDF, 1.4 MB]

AM19-1024 - Hector’s and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan: Crown Law Advice and Talking Points [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Appendix One has been withheld pursuant section 9(2)(h) of the OIA to maintain legal professional privilege.
Appendix Two has been withheld pursuant to section 9(2)(g)(i) of the OIA to maintain the effective conduct of public affairs through the free and frank expression of opinions by or between or to Ministers of the Crown or members of an organisation or officers and employees of any department or organisation in the course of their duty.

24 June 2020 – Outcome of the consultation

The Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Conservation have made decisions on a revised Hector’s and Māui dolphins threat management plan.

This follows the public consultation that ran from 17 June to 19 August 2019 on a range of options to manage human-induced threats that these dolphins face.

New protection for dolphins and support for changes to fishing methods – NZ Government media release

Non-fishing measures – Department of Conservation

Minister's decision letter on the threat management plan [PDF, 1.8 MB]

Overview of new measures to help protect dolphins

On 1 October 2020, new measures will take effect restricting commercial and recreational set-net and commercial trawl fishing off the west coast of the North Island, and commercial and recreational set-net fishing off the north, south, and east coasts of the South Island. In addition, drift netting will be prohibited in all New Zealand waters.

Fact sheet for North Island measures (including maps) [PDF, 761 KB]

Fact sheet for South Island measures (including maps) [PDF, 555 KB]

Further consultation planned for the South Island

The new set-net restrictions address most of the fisheries risk to Hector’s dolphins in the South Island.

Based on feedback received during the consultation, it is proposed to consult on further extending the commercial and recreational set-net closures around Banks Peninsula. This aims to address the risk of displaced set-net effort in areas that are still open to set-netting within the dolphin habitat. Consultation is required because this measure was not included in options discussed with the public previously.

The minister has decided not to introduce new trawl area restrictions in the South Island as he considers the current restrictions adequately manage the risk from this method. However, he does want to look at the ways trawling is carried out, such as trawl speed and headline height of the net, in an effort to further reduce the risk to dolphins while still allowing use of the fishery.

The minister also wants to explore a new management approach in the South Island in the event of a dolphin capture, in areas not closed to set-net or trawl fishing. This involves a capture-response approach designed to encourage fishers to avoid all bycatch of Hector’s dolphins. Under this approach, fishing-related mortality limits would be applied within each local and sub-population area. Every capture and fishing death of a dolphin would require a response at a vessel-specific level, and provide an avenue for fishers to adapt their practices to reduce risk to the dolphins.

To ensure the proposed management approach is effective, a substantive level of camera monitoring would be required. To support this new framework, the minister intends to consult on a significant expansion of the Crown-funded on-board camera programme to cover inshore fishing vessels using trawl and set-net within Hector’s dolphin habitat.

Before any formal consultation, Fisheries New Zealand will seek iwi input and participation, and undertake targeted engagement with stakeholders, to inform the development of the proposed measures.

Transition support

Reflecting the unique challenges currently facing the New Zealand economy and the pressure some businesses are facing as a result, the Government will provide a business advice and financial support package to significantly impacted fishers and licensed fish receivers. The package is intended to support them to manage the impacts of the measures and remain in the industry wherever possible. 

A representative will be in contact with eligible fishers and licensed fish receivers shortly.

Find out more about the transition support

Wellbeing support

National and regional services are available to support commercial fishers with health, wellbeing, and making business decisions.

Find out about the help, advice, and support available

A free, confidential, and independent fisher wellbeing service is available. It is managed by an ex-commercial fisherman who understands the industry and how the new measures may impact commercial operations.

Freephone 0800 23 74 38 (between 7am and 10pm).

3 February 2020 update

Consultation on a new threat management plan for Māui and Hector's dolphins took place from 17 June to 19 August 2019. Over 13,000 submissions were received and a petition with over 76,000 signatures was presented to Parliament. It is clear from the number of submissions and the issues raised that people care deeply about the future of the dolphins and fishers’ livelihoods.

It is important to get the decision right so ministers took more time to consider the feedback received and options available.

Background information about the consultation

Our proposals set out:

  • 4 options for protecting Māui dolphins in the North Island from fishing-related threats
  • 3 options for protecting Hector’s dolphins in the South Island from fishing-related threats. 

The proposals also included a plan to manage toxoplasmosis and restrictions to seismic surveying and seabed mining in areas which could cause cumulative harm to dolphins.

Consultation documents 

Consultation document [PDF, 1.8 MB] (updated 17 June 2019) 

Supporting information and rationale [PDF, 4.6 MB] (updated 17 June 2019)

Clarification of west coast North Island commercial and recreational set-net closure option 2 (Hawera to Wellington portion)


Supporting science documents

Spatial risk assessment of threats to Hector’s/Māui dolphins [PDF, 8.9 MB]

Population dynamics modelling of the Māui dolphin [PDF, 7.6 MB]

Population effects of fishery and non-fishery threats on Māui dolphins [PDF, 666 KB]

Underwater sound propagation modelling to illustrate potential noise exposure to Maui dolphins from seismic surveys and vessel traffic on West Coast North Island, New Zealand [PDF, 7.6 MB]

Fisheries proposal maps

A set of maps included:

  • overview maps from the consultation document that outline the options for commercial and recreational set-netting and trawling
  • additional maps showing the detailed coordinates for Kaipara, Manukau and Raglan Harbours, North Coast North Island, Pegasus Bay, Canterbury Bight and Te Waewae Bay closures.

Fisheries proposal maps [ZIP, 1.6 MB]

What was proposed?

Hector’s and Māui dolphins are among the world’s rarest. They face a range of human-induced threats, including fishing, seismic surveying, and the disease toxoplasmosis.

We consulted on a range of options to improve the way these threats to Hector’s and Māui dolphins are managed. 

The proposals were put together using the best available science, and we thought they gave us the best opportunity to help protect these dolphins. 

We know fishing-related threats have reduced in areas where restrictions have been put in place, but threats from fishing remain and need to be considered. In addition, we identified a range of other threats, which need to be dealt with.

Your feedback was sought to help us improve these proposals. In particular, we needed to carefully balance the proposals against the impact they could have on people and their livelihoods.

The options included:

  • extending current restrictions on trawling and set-netting in areas where Hector’s and Māui dolphins live
  • increasing the boundaries of marine mammal sanctuaries
  • placing further restrictions on seismic surveying and seabed mining in areas where Hector’s and Māui dolphins live
  • developing an action plan to address the threat from the disease toxoplasmosis, which has emerged as a significant human-induced threat.

Submissions are public information

Note, that any submission you make becomes public information. People can ask for copies of submissions under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA says we have to make submissions available unless we have good reasons for withholding them. That is explained in sections 6 and 9 of the OIA.

Tell us if you think there are grounds to withhold specific information in your submission. Reasons might include that it's commercially sensitive or it's personal information. However, any decision the Department of Conservation or Fisheries New Zealand make to withhold information can be reviewed by the Ombudsman, who may tell us to release it.

The Department of Conservation or Fisheries New Zealand may post all or parts of any written submission on its website. We'll consider that you have consented to its publication unless clearly stated otherwise in your submission.