Endangered Dolphins Still in Trouble

Hector’s dolphins live only in the waters of New Zealand and have experienced a huge decline over the last several decades due to techniques used by the fishing industry, which cause them to die. Thirty to forty years ago there may have been 30,000 but now there are just 7,000. A subspecies of Hector’s dolphin (the Maui) is down to just about 100. The number of Maui females is estimated to be twenty five, which means there might not be enough to reproduce and grow the population.

Gillnetting and trawling are the two fishing activities mainly responsible for decreasing the dolphin population. Each year dolphins are drowned in gillnets. At the current rate, a very significant number of dolphins will be lost – enough to push the whole group to the brink of extinction. “Our research shows that each year 23 Hector’s dolphins drown in commercial gillnets off the east coast of the South Island. The sustainable limit for this area is about one dolphin a year. This level of bycatch will deplete the population by least a further 14% by 2050,” said one of the researchers. (Source: Fishupdate.com)

The New Zealand fishing lobby has resisted policies restricting the damaging gillnet and trawling methods, even though these policies could help keep the dolphins alive, and wouldn’t harm fisherman’s take much at all.

Hector’s dolphins are one of the smallest cetaceans, just about 4-5 feet long and live in an isolated area of the world. Most people probably haven’t heard of them, and wouldn’t know how low their numbers are, or even if they had been driven into extinction by humans. What you can do is not purchase seafood from New Zealand, not travel there for recreation, and write emails to the following officials:

Ministry of the Environment

Ministry of Tourism

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Department of Conservation, Southland Conservancy

Image Credit: James Shook

Related Links

Dolphins Catch Fish with Shells
Endangered Dolphins Decline More



Dainzu Arroyo
Dainy Arroyo5 years ago

This fishing industry techniques must be stopped

Malgorzata Zmuda
Malgorzata Zmuda5 years ago

To bardzo przykre. że są zagrożone, musimy je ratować.

Aditya Narayan
Aditya n6 years ago


Valentina R.
Valentina R6 years ago

Very sad how beautiful dolphins are still endangered because of us.

Janine Kaczynski
janine Kaczynski6 years ago

I HAVE A BETTER IDEA! (now remind you, I'm vegan) If these people need to get fish (longlining has been abolished from what I heard) in warm weather why don't they have a "spotter" who checks to see if there is a dolphin in the catch, and then release it? Actually scuba around the nets?

You know, it's beyond me why we need to eat animals anymore anyway. Why can't we eat something else? Thousands of plant based things to eat in the universe, wtf?

Angela N.
Angela N6 years ago

thank you =]

Tanja Z.
Tanja Zilker6 years ago

a great article

Janna Spektor

Thank you for the great article

Robin R.
Robin R6 years ago

So frustrating that humans won't listen to reason even when they are fully aware of the consequences of their actions. How can the fishing industry justify knowingly driving an entire species to extinction?