Maui dolphins

Image: University of Auckland and DOC | DOC

Introduction

Have your say on proposals to change five Marine Mammal Sanctuaries and a proposal to ban seabed mining in Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha/Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary. Submissions close 21 July 2020.

Where

The Minister of Conservation is proposing changes to the:

  • West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary
  • Clifford and Cloudy Bay Marine Mammal Sanctuary
  • Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary
  • Catlins Coast Marine Mammal Sanctuary, and
  • Te Waewae Bay Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

We’ll refer to these sanctuaries as the “five sanctuaries”. These sanctuaries were set up to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins.

The Minister of Conservation is also proposing to change the Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha/Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary.

Summary of proposed changes

The proposed changes are to better protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins. The proposals include four changes:

  1. Extension to the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
  2. Extension to the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
  3. Banning seismic surveying and seabed mining in the five sanctuaries, including the extensions. There will be some exemptions.
  4. Banning seabed mining in Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha/Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary.

The extensions would double the total area of protection for the dolphins across the five sanctuaries to a total 37,286 km2.

Which legal Acts these changes are proposed under and NZ Gazette notices

The five sanctuaries changes are proposed under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.

The banning of seabed mining in Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha/Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary is proposed under the Kaikōura (Te Tai o Marokura) Marine Management Act 2014.

Why these changes are proposed

Hector’s and Māui dolphins are together one of the world’s rarest dolphin species. There are only around 63 Māui dolphins over the age of one year and the sub-species has a conservation status of nationally critical. The Hector’s dolphin sub-species is classified as nationally vulnerable with a population of about 15,000.

The proposed changes to these five sanctuaries are part of a package of planned measures to address threats to these dolphins. The measures result from a review of the Hector’s and Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan. The review included public consultation in 2019 on protection options outlined in a discussion paper ‘Protecting Hector’s and Māui Dolphins’.

Details of the proposed changes

Extension to the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary

The Minister of Conservation has proposed to extend the current southern boundary of this sanctuary. The extension would move the southern boundary from Oakura, Taranaki further south to Wellington. With this extension, the sanctuary would stretch along much of the west coast of the North Island, from Maunganui Bluff in Northland to the southern end of the Wellington coast, and offshore to 12 nautical miles.

Extension to the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary

The Minister of Conservation has proposed to extend the current sanctuary boundary north to meet the southern boundary of Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha Whale Sanctuary off Kaikōura and south to Timaru. The boundary would be extended offshore from 12 nautical miles currently, to 20 nautical miles.

What the extensions will achieve

With these two extensions, the five sanctuaries would cover:

  • all the North Island distribution of the Māui dolphin
  • a large part of the east coast South Island Hector’s dolphin’s distribution.

This would double the total area of protection for the dolphins across the five sanctuaries to a total 37,286 km2

Map of New Zealand showing current and proposed extension changes (PDF, 565KB).

Banning seismic surveying and seabed mining

The Minister of Conservation has proposed to ban seismic surveying and seabed mining in the five sanctuaries, with exemptions. These exemptions are explained in detail under the sections about exemptions. The banning of seismic surveying and seabed mining will include the two proposed extensions to:

  • Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary
  • West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

Banning seismic surveying and seabed mining will help to protect these dolphins from the impacts of these activities which include:

  • noise from seismic surveying and seabed mining
  • sedimentation which can displace these dolphin species and disrupt their food supply.

Impacts of seismic surveying and seabed mining.

The proposed seabed mining ban does not include the west coast North Island harbours. These are:

  • Kaipara Harbour
  • Manukau Harbour
  • Raglan Harbour
  • Aotea Harbour
  • Kawhia Harbour
  • Porirua Harbour.

Exemption for existing exploration and mining

Existing exploration and mining permits or licences in the five sanctuary areas will be exempt from the seismic surveying and seabed mining ban. The exemption would apply to any subsequent permits granted in relation to the existing permits.

Exemption for seismic surveys

The Minister of Conservation proposes to exempt seismic surveys for:

  • urgent hazard assessments
  • decommissioning of infrastructure, and
  • surveys approved for an exemption by the Minister of Conservation and Minster of Energy and Resources. This exemption is for an activity that is nationally significant, and the purpose of the activity could not be achieved if undertaken outside a sanctuary area.

“Hazard assessment” means an assessment of faultlines following a major seismic event; or an assessment of the likelihood of, or to mitigate the potential effects of, an anticipated natural hazard, or maritime accident, incident or mishap.

Examples of nationally significant activities could include:

  • science and research activity
  • under seabed cables for telecommunications
  • offshore wind farms.

The Minister of Conservation proposes that any exempt seismic surveying operations must comply with the 2013 Code of Conduct for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations inside the five sanctuaries. This is because any seismic surveying in the sanctuaries still risks disturbance to the dolphins.

2013 Code of Conduct for Minimising Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations  (PDF, 1,260KB).

Whānau, hapū or iwi, considerations

Any whānau, hapū or iwi, who consider they exercise kaitiakitanga in a part of the five sanctuaries have a right to participate in the process and provide their views on the proposals.

The Minister of Conservation must have particular regard to the views of those whānau, hapū and iwi in considering the proposals.

Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha/Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary proposed seabed mining prohibition

The Minister of Conservation proposes to ban seabed mining within Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha Whale Sanctuary off Kaikōura. There are no exemptions proposed in this sanctuary.

This proposal was not among the options consulted on in the Hector’s and Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan review in 2019. However, this proposal would extend protection for marine mammals along the South Island east coast.

How to make submissions

Submissions close 21 July 2020.

1. Prepare your submission

Your submission should include your:

  • name
  • organisation if you’re submitting on behalf of an organisation
  • contact details and preferences
  • comments on the proposals.

When you’re making your comments, state if you agree or disagree with a proposal and why. You don’t have to comment on all the proposals if you don’t want to. Here’s a simple list of the proposals:

  • To extend the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
  • To extend the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
  • To ban seismic surveying, with exemptions, within the five sanctuaries.
  • To require all seismic surveys that qualify for an exemption in the five sanctuaries to comply with the 2013 Code of Conduct for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Surveying Operations.
  • To ban seabed mining, with exemptions, within the five sanctuaries.
  • To ban seabed mining within the Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha/Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary.

All submissions are subject to the Official Information Act and can be released under this Act. If you have specific reasons for wanting to have your submission withheld, explain your reasons in the submission. Your reasons will be considered when making any assessment for the release of submissions under the Official Information Act.

2. Send your submission

You can send your submission by either email or post.

Email: dolphintmp@doc.govt.nz

You’ll get a confirmation email to let you know we have received your submission.

Post:
Consultation: Marine Mammal Sanctuaries Department of Conservation
PO Box 10420
Wellington 6143

What happens next

After submissions close:

  1. The Minister of Conservation will consider all submissions. The Minister will also give particular regard to the views of whānau, hapū and iwi that exercise kaitiakitanga in a part of the five sanctuaries.
  2. The Minister of Conservation will make a decision on the proposals in accordance with the Minister’s statutory obligations. The decision must have the consent of the Minister of Energy and Resources, Minister of Transport and Minister of Fisheries.
  3. If the Minister of Conservation decides to proceed with any changes they will be notified in the New Zealand Gazette.

Factsheet resource

The factsheet has the same information as this webpage.

Factsheet for marine mammal sanctuary and Kaikōura whale sanctuary proposals (PDF, 1,298KB).

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