2 Jul 2013

IWC warns of Maui dolphin extinction risk

9:26 am on 2 July 2013

The International Whaling Commission is warning the world's rarest dolphin could be extinct in less than 20 years if more isn't done to protect it.

At last count there were just 55 Maui's dolphins in the waters they inhabit off the North Island's west coast.

The commission says the numbers are so small that even one human-caused death would increase the risk of extinction.

It is recommending the New Zealand Government ban gill netting and trawling in Maui areas, as well as fully closing any fisheries that pose a risk to the dolphin being caught.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith says he's also concerned and is looking at more ways to make sure the endangered species doesn't die out.

He says he hopes to have an updated plan on how to better protect the dolphins finalised this month.