Domestic Market Key to Demise of Imperiled Dolphins
American environmental writer Andrew Revkin, in his regular column for the New York Times, says local nets, not faraway markets are the key to the “deeply imperiled toothed whale” New Zealand’s Maui’s dolphin.
“The subspecies is down to fewer than 50 individuals by some counts, largely because of drownings in towed and anchored fishing nets,” Revkin writes.
“New Zealand’s dolphin troubles are largely driven by local factors, not global trade, illicit or otherwise.”
To get a snapshot of how this is playing out, Revkin recommends reading a “fascinating” transcript of a parliamentary session in May pressing the country’s minister of conservation, Maggie Barry, on the issue.
The scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission has increasingly pressed New Zealand to boost protections for the Maui’s dolphin, expressing “grave concern” earlier this year.
Conservationist Christine Rose contributes to the Times column.
“Here in New Zealand, an almost mythically idyllic maritime country at the edge of the South Pacific, what’s driving a rare and tiny dolphin to extinction is not illegal international trade or Asian superstitions,” Rose writes. “It’s New Zealand’s domestic consumers dining at their local fish and chips shop.
“Almost half of New Zealanders eat fish once a week, and a meal of battered and deep fried ‘fish and chips’ is a strong Kiwi tradition. Maui and Hector’s are caught in the low-value fisheries for this market: shark, rig, butterfish and mullet.
“New Zealand, despite its status as a prosperous developed country, is failing to show leadership – leaving the Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins in peril, and all for the sake of a domestic market for cheap fish.”
Original article by Andrew Revkin, The New York Times, August 27, 2015.