There are only 55 Maui’s dolphins remaining making it one of the world’s rarest dolphin. They are the world’s smallest dolphin. They are found on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
This critically endangered dolphin is under another threat. The threat of oil and gas exploration. 3000 square kilometres of the North Island’s west coast have been signed off for exploration. The West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, home to the Maui’s dolphin, has been included in the block for exploration.
The New Zealand Conservation Minister Nick Smith insisted that the block that has been given to go ahead for exploration “is nowhere near where the Maui’s [dolphin] live” and “There hasn’t been a single observation of a Maui’s dolphin, and the oil and gas industry hasn’t been involved in a single Maui’s dolphin incident in Taranaki over the past 40 years despite 23 wells being drilled.” Conservation minister Dr Nick Smith and Energy and Resources minister Simon Bridges have both expressed the view that the risk from drilling is very small.
However, the Department of Conservation showed that there had been at least 10 sightings in the areas. Nick Smith quickly admitted that there could have been sightings in the area proposed for exploration.
A poll showed that 80% of New Zealanders thought that oil exploration in the proposed site should not take place.
The International Whaling Commission published a report that said the “current management situation falls short of that required to reverse the Maui’s decline”.