New Zealand's inaction on rare dolphin risks fisheries boycott: campaigners

New Zealand's inaction on rare dolphin risks fisheries boycott: campaigners

WELLINGTON, June 10 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's fishing industry is threatened with an international boycott unless the government acts to save the world's smallest dolphin, campaigners said Tuesday after International Whaling Commission (IWC) scientists issued a third report saying the Maui's dolphin is on the verge of extinction.

An IWC Scientific Committee report calling for immediate action is to be formally submitted to the IWC at its meeting in Slovenia from September 11 to 14, and the IWC is expected to formally adopt its recommendations for the extension of fishing restrictions in the Maui's dolphin habitat off the west of the North Island in order to prevent deaths as bycatch.

New Zealand's main opposition Labor Party said it was past time for the government to act to protect the Maui's dolphin, which is believed to number just 55 adults.

"There are growing calls for an international boycott on buying New Zealand fish because our fishing practices threaten the future of Maui's dolphin," Labor conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson said in a statement.

"It is the government that sets the rules -- and it needs to listen to the best scientific advice available if we are to protect our dolphins and our fishing industry," said Dyson.

"There doesn't have to be a loser here. We can save this species and enhance the reputation of our fisheries."

The IWC report, which said the government's "current management situation falls short of that required to reverse the Maui's decline," was hugely embarrassing, said the opposition Green Party.

"Saving the Maui's is about protecting the world's smallest dolphin, but it's also about protecting our national brand and exports," Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes said in a statement.

WWF-New Zealand said the government needed to support the fishing industry's move to dolphin friendly practices, rather than using the industry as an excuse for not protecting the Maui's dolphin.

"New Zealand prides itself on its international reputation and has successfully fought for protection of whales through the IWC, now it's time to listen. If we are to continue to have credible standing at the IWC when we call for protection of whales then we need to listen to them on Maui's dolphins as well," WWF-New Zealand marine species advocate Milena Palka said in a statement.