NZ urged to better protect dolphins

from TVNZ

A committee of the International Whaling Commission has called on New Zealand to offer dolphins and whales more protection from the impact of tourism.

The Commission's Scientific Committee was presented with a research paper from Otago University which says bottlenose dolphins in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, are going into new fiords to try to avoid tour boats.

The paper says the extra energy they use to do that is resulting in fewer successful pregnancies and the death of young calves.

The IWC committee recommended New Zealand urgently increase protection for bottlenose dolphins.

It said until there is evidence dolphins and whales aren't negatively affected by the tours New Zealand should assume it is possible.

But, cruise operators in Doubtful Sound say they are operating in accordance with government regulations, which are there to protect the environment.

Chief executive of Real Journeys, Dave Hawkey, says the research is not conclusive and says the matter is really between the researchers and the Department of Conservation.