by Gareth Hughes
Has anyone seen the Minister of Conservation, Kate Wilkinson? Maybe we should send out a search party because she is missing in action.
She’s clearly not doing her job which is using her powers to protect threatened species. On her watch we are seeing the critically endangered Maui’s dolphins and the New Zealand Sea Lion on a fast-track to extinction.
Last night the Environmental Defence Society launched an important report suggesting how we could improve marine mammal protection legislation. I think their recommendations are good and I urge the Government to act on them but it shouldn’t act as an excuse to not act now. The Minister has the power now, under existing legislation to act, to save these iconic marine mammals. She has the tools, just lacks the will.
For example she can control animals dying in fishing nets through set net bans in certain area. But she won’t act and is leaving decision making up to others. She only submitted to the Minister of Primary Industries that his proposed measures were ‘vastly inadequate’ and embarrassingly her advice wasn’t even presented to the Minister as an option by officials.
She has the power to extend marine mammal sanctuaries and control activities within them but she’s months overdue to extend the Taranaki sanctuary after a Maui’s dolphin died there recently and she won’t even think about extending the Auckland Island sanctuary to protect sea lions there.
She has the power to regulate oil drilling seismic surveys which can endanger marine life but she’s happy for voluntary guidelines.
There are only 55 adult Maui’s dolphins remaining and the worlds eyes are on us. New Zealanders love our Maui’s dolphins and want to protect them from extinction. If anyone sees the Conservation minister can you tell her to hurry up and use her powers to protect?