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Oil drilling will threaten Maui's dolphin, say Greens

Published: 8:55PM Tuesday June 17, 2014 Source: ONE News

The Government is making the dire situation of the endangered Maui's dolphin worse by opening up more of their habitat to petroleum exploration and drilling, the Green Party claims.

The Greens says they have obtained documents under the Official Information Act which reveal the Government included over 3,000 square kilometres of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary in the competitive tender for petroleum exploration permits, known as Block Offer 2014.

The sanctuary was established in 2008 as a part of the Hector's and Maui's dolphin Threat Management Plan.

"The International Whaling Commission is calling for even greater protections for Maui's dolphins, this National Government is putting these beautiful dolphins at greater risk of extinction," says Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

Just last week the International Whaling Commission published a report that said the "current management situation falls short of that required to reverse the Maui's decline".

Maui's dolphins - the world's most endangered dolphin - are only found in New Zealand, and the Government is driving them to extinction, Dr Norman says.

"The Government should stop putting the short-term interest of a few mining companies ahead of the thousands and thousands of New Zealanders who love and want to protect the endangered Maui's dolphin," he says.

According to Dr Norman, expert scientists say seismic surveys, which are part of petroleum exploration, can harm dolphins' hearing and may push them into unprotected areas where they are more exposed to fishing nets.