Seabed Mining Threatens Critically Endangered Maui Dolphins

Conservationists are speaking out after a controversial permit was approved for seabed mining exploration in a marine sanctuary for New Zealand’s critically endangered Maui dolphins.

The Maui dolphins at the center of this controversy are a subspecies of increasingly rare Hector’s dolphin, who can only be found on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Both were once abundant, but they’ve both continued to decline and today Maui dolphins are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Despite actions taken to protect them, including the creation of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary in 2008, they’ve yet to make a meaningful comeback. Now there are only estimated to 63 or fewer left in existence, and much more needs to be done to help them recover and thrive.

Unfortunately, their future was just put in further jeopardy by a five-year permit to allow Ironsands Offshore Mining Ltd. to explore the seabed for minerals in the sanctuary, which was granted by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Exploration isn’t mining, yet, but the company’s activities in the area will be disruptive and pose a serious threat to Maui dolphins, and to other marine life in the area, including whales, dolphins and seals, and it could lead to further activities in the area. As Whale and Dolphin Conservation Australasia’s Mike Bossley pointed out, “the exploration company must think there is a reasonable chance of getting such permission otherwise they would not go to the expense of exploring.”

Now, advocates for Maui dolphins, and organizations including Whale and Dolphin Conservation, WWF New Zealand and Greenpeace, are expressing shock and disappointment over the decision, and are calling on both the company to scrap its plans, and on the government to uphold its pledge to protect Maui dolphins by ensuring that no further extractive activities take place in their sanctuary.

“At WWF-New Zealand, we are shocked and deeply disappointed that this marine mining exploration permit has been granted inside Māui dolphin habitat. With only 63 adult dolphins left, this precious taonga is on the brink of extinction. Mining in their sanctuary is simply unacceptable,” said WWF CEO Livia Esterhazy. “While we understand that those applying for the permit and those granting the permit are simply following the letter of the law, you have to wonder whether they are thinking straight. It is a really bad idea to propose mining iron sands in this area, which is supposed to be a marine mammal sanctuary.”

While the Department of Conservation couldn’t have stopped the exploration permit from going forward, it has expressed serious concerns, and it can act to protect this fragile population of dolphins by ensuring no further permits are granted for mining in the area.

TAKE ACTION!

You can help by signing and sharing the petition urging New Zealand’s Department of Conservation to act to ensure that no further extractive activities will be allowed in the Maui dolphins’ habitat.

Photo credit: New Zealand Department of Conservation

58 comments

Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole H24 days ago

Just read 2 members telling it's a mineral for metal industry. I fully agree with them. There are BILLIONS of TONS OF STEEL ALL OVER THE WORLD. You just have to pick it up, shred it, and than it's ready for recuperation. That would be far better. No more heaps of trash in old, forgotten factories, rusted cars, trains, ships, tractors, etc.. etc... Clean up our planet and save endangered animals.

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Nicole H
Nicole H24 days ago

This seabed mining is to explore the area for the availability of minerals. Right, one may think that's only an exploration. But suppose minerals will effectively be found, the mining will not be postponed until the Maui Dolphins are out of danger, of course not. Mining will start immediately as nothing is more important that the greed of people. THEREFORE, this seabed mining must stop and more measures must be taken to protect the remaining 63 Maui Dolphins. Amen !

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John W
John W24 days ago

Thanks

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner25 days ago

Why don't these government and corporate terrorists just blow themselves up instead of blowing up all life on this planet? I'd gladly vote for the army to bomb whatever hideouts they're lurking in.

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson27 days ago

Awful.

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Peggy B
Peggy B27 days ago

TYFS

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Glennis W
Glennis W27 days ago

Cruel BASTARDS Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W27 days ago

So horrible and cruel Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W27 days ago

Despicable Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W27 days ago

Deplorable and sickening Thank you for caring and sharing

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