A permit has been granted for mining exploration inside the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, an area established to protect the critically endangered Māui dolphins.
There are fewer than 60 Māui dolphins left and we must do everything we can to protect them.
WDC Australasia’s Mike Bossley said, ‘at this stage it is only an exploration permit, not a permit to mine. There are a number of legislative obstacles before mining is permitted. However, the exploration company must think there is a reasonable chance of getting such permission otherwise they would not go to the expense of exploring.’
Even an exploratory exercise risks causing disturbance to this highly vulnerable group of dolphins.
The Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage, has said that the Department of Conservation ‘has significant concerns about the risk commercial mining would pose to Māui dolphins’.
WDC has written to Sage and to Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, to express our concern and remind them that the New Zealand government made an election promise to protect these iconic, indigenous and critically endangered dolphins and we expect them to keep that promise.