About 60 of the extremely rare Maui dolphins are left in the North Island of New Zealand. This species’ extinction is a result of legal fishing methods that have been causing destruction since the 1970’s. Among several fishing practices, bottom trawlers and gillnets cause the most devastation and leave lasting scars on ocean life. Despite the horrifying results from these methods, there has been little done to protect these species. Even with a slight increase in November of 2016 of these dolphins, fishing practices are still causing destruction and interfering with this species.
Bottom trawlers are considered to be the most dangerous, because large nets are weighed down by heavy ballast and drag along the ocean floor killing everything in its surroundings. Fish and coral are not the only ones at risk, these massive nets scar seabed’s, which are usually permanent. Bottom trawlers and gillnets might be productive for fishermen, but non-targeted species are usually caught in these nets. Therefore, non-target species are either fatally wounded and thrown back into the ocean- commonly known as “bycatching.”
Bycatching is extremely common and results in millions of tons of dead fish a year- fish that are then the victims of a declining population or extinction. Corals, sponges, and even sharks are only a few species that have been on the brink of extinction due to bottom trawling and bycatching. Now, Maui dolphins are being added to that long list and need protection. Since, the Maui dolphin population does not increase significantly annually and there needs to be 20 adult females to increase the population, there needs to be more restrictions for fishing practices in their territory that will be an example for fishing in the future. Restrictions are urgent, because the Maui dolphins’ home is also used for human recreation, which makes them easy targets for extinction. Therefore, protection for the Maui dolphin territory and restrictions for fishing will protect these dolphins and allow them to increase their population while setting an example for future fishing methods.