Late last month (June 2014), several news outlets reported that documents reveal that 3,000 square km of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary have been signed off for exploration permits and that the New Zealand government opens west coast block for oil and gas drilling.
The West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary which is included in the block of land has been recognized to be home to the Maui’s dolphin. International conservation activists and organization like WWF (World Wildlife Fund), a charity organization have urged the New Zealand government to do more to save the dolphins and do not put them at a higher risk.
However, the Conservation Minister Nick Smith insisted recently that the block in question “is nowhere near where the Maui’s live,” after the issue was raised by the Green Party. Mr. Smith has also told the New Zealand Parliament that There hasn’t been a single observation of a Maui’s dolphin (in the area), 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, according to Independent Newspaper.
The Maui’s dolphin is the world’s rarest and smallest dolphin. It is estimated that there are only 55 adult left off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island as their numbers continue to be threatened by fishing and disease.