Update on protection for Maui and Hector’s dolphins, with plans for future improvements

Friday 16 Feb 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka.
Professor Liz Slooten, Department of Zoology, University of Otago.

Professor Liz Slooten has studied New Zealand dolphins (Hector’s and Maui dolphins) since 1984. Her research has been instrumental in achieving dolphin protection. Research by Liz and her colleagues Steve Dawson and William Rayment has shown that the number of dolphin deaths in fishing nets is not sustainable. The Otago University team’s research has led the way to effective dolphin protection in New Zealand.

The first protected area was created by Helen Clark in 1988, when she was Minister of Conservation. The second protected area was created by Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson in 2003 to protect the North Island subspecies, Maui dolphin. In 2008, Minister of Fisheries Jim Anderton created a network of protected areas for Hector’s and Maui dolphins. Right now, there is at least some protection in most of the habitat of Hector’s and Maui dolphins but most populations are still declining.

The International Whaling Commission and IUCN have recommended extending the protected areas further offshore, to the 100 metre depth contour. The Labour Party and Green Party included these recommendations in their conservation policies for the 2017 election.

Liz’s teaching in the Department of Zoology at Otago University includes first year Ecology, a third year course in Conservation Biology and a fourth year (MSc) course in Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation. She has also contributed to the teaching of Statistics for Biology Students for many years. Liz’s research is focused on studying human impacts on whales and dolphins

In addition to New Zealand dolphins, Liz also participates in research programmes on sperm whales in Kaikoura, right whales at the Auckland Islands and bottlenose dolphins in Fiordland.