by Gareth Hughes
It’s not just Japan that is killing whales regularly.
Auckland Regional Council estimates that, since 1989, on average two Bryde’s whales per year in New Zealand die from ship strike.
News out yesterday from the Department of Conservation has found that ship strike was the cause of death for a Bryde’s whale found near Auckland, and the Green Party is calling on the Government to act immediately to reduce the chances of more ship strike deaths.
Bryde’s whales are a nationally critically endangered species and it is estimated only 200 are left in the Hauraki Gulf.
It’s outrageous the Government has sat on its hands for years and hasn’t used the considerable powers at its disposal to protect this species.
Department of Conservation Auckland Area biodiversity manager Phil Brown says, “Ship strike poses the greatest threat to Bryde’s whales in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. This latest death highlights the urgent need to take action to address this problem.”
Research has shown if large ship speeds are reduced to 10 knots in Bryde’s whale would have a 75% chance of surviving a strike leading to Hauraki Gulf Forum Chairman John Tregidga saying, “I would strongly encourage the industry to establish 10 knots as a code of best practice for the Hauraki Gulf.”
It’s simple, to give this species a shot at survival we need to slow down and stop lethally striking them at speed.
While I welcome the on-going discussions between various parties trying to get an agreement on ship speeds, the Government could act straight away to reduce large ship speeds and protect the Bryde’s whale.
The Government should use provisions under to the Marine Mammals protection Act to set speed limits for the Hauraki Gulf.
The Minister of Conservation shouldn’t wait around for voluntary agreements that may never occur; she has the power to protect this amazing species of whale now.