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Protestors say Maui's dolphins can be saved

Tuesday 3 Apr 2012 4:59 p.m.

By Adam Ray

Protesters have marched to Parliament calling for the Government to take emergency measures to save the rare Maui's dolphin.

Just 55 of the dolphins survive off the North Island's West Coast and conservationists say they will die out without a complete ban on set-netting.

“The Maui’s dolphin are out there putting their bodies on the line trying to save their lives and here we are destroying their habitats, so this is the least I can do,” says protester Tehani Buchanan.

The latest survey found the Maui's population is down to just 55 and conservationists say set-netting is driving them to extinction.

“We have that 100 percent pure slogan – [but] right now it’s more like 10 percent pure,” says Liz Slooten.

Protester Pete Bethune is famed for battling Japanese whaling and says the fight for Maui's dolphin can be won.

“We have saved several birds where there were just individuals left, [and] we can do the same for the Maui’s,” says Mr Bethune.

The protesters say the Government is taking too long to extend a set-netting ban off the North Island's West Coast.

They say public support for the dolphin is growing - although only about 60 people started the march.

“One for each dolphin,” says organiser Paul Moss

The protesters missed a meeting with the Conservation Minister at Parliament, but Labour is supporting them - saying the Government has turned the Maui's debate into a scrap between fishermen and conservationists.

It is the prospect of legal war from conservation or fishing groups that the Government is trying to avoid and a spokesman for Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson told 3 News that enacting an emergency ban would leave the Government open to judicial challenges.

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