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“He tu te Pahu, He tu te Tai – If the dolphin is well, so too are our coasts” (Waitaha proverb)

Welcome to the home of Sea Shepherd New Zealand's campaign to defend, conserve, and protect the endangered New Zealand Hector's dolphin.

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THE ISSUE

Pahu (more commonly known as 'Hector's Dolphins') are endemic to the coastal waters of New Zealands South Island. Current estimates put their population at around 9,000 dolphins, down from a former abundance of 50,000 in 1970. With a population decline of more than 80% in less than 50 years, Pahu are currently listed as an endangered species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

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Hector's dolphins entangled in recreational and commercial gill nets.

An inshore dolphin, Pahu spend their time around the coast, and this proximity makes them very vulnerable to human interference. Their greatest threat comes from fishing practices that utilise gill nets or trawling for their catch, and in 2016 a leaked Government report, 'Operation Achilles', revealed that vessels operating within the inshore fisheries region were dumping 20 to 100 percent of their catch during every haul, highlighting the indiscriminate nature of current fishing practices in New Zealand. Along with this, it was shown that dolphins such as Pahu were regularly being caught and killed, without being reported. With such low population numbers, this type of reckless fishing is disastrous for these endemic New Zealand cetaceans.

Pahu is one of the names used by Maori in Te Wai Pounamu (South Island) for Hector’s dolphins. The sound these dolphins make when they breathe is ‘Pahu’.

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THE CAMPAIGN

Operation Pahu is Sea Shepherd New Zealand’s first official campaign. It will be a long term determined effort to reduce the risk to Hector’s from illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) commercial and recreational fishing from Te Waewae Bay up to the Canterbury Bight.

Whilst at sea, we will also monitor Hector’s subpopulation numbers, collecting field data and contributing to the existing photo identification catalogue, held at the University of Otago.

Through a combination of science, community engagement and civilian monitoring of fishing activity, 'Operation Pahu' will make a stand for these precious dolphins before it is too late for them.

AT SEA

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Sea Shepherd NZ's vessel, the 'Loki', and Campaign Leader, Grant Meikle.

The campaign will see Sea Shepherd New Zealand use their new vessel, the 'Loki', to patrol the South-Eastern coast of the South Island to assist in the protection of the Pahu. By monitoring fishing vessels, as well as keeping an eye out for any illegal practices. 

Sea Shepherd New Zealand will be able to assist local scientists, government and enforcement in keeping an eye on these waters that play a critical role in the survival of the species.

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Patrolling Curio and Porpoise Bay in the Catlins; pictured here with some of our clients. The Catlins is a growing tourist area and people from all over the world come here to see the Pahu (Hector’s dolphins) which can often be seen just from the beach.  The incorrectly named “Porpoise Bay” comes from a time when early European settlers had no idea Pahu were endemic inshore dolphins only found in Aotearoa. We’ve patrolled here a number of times in the Loki and observed up to fifteen individuals. Ten years ago DOC estimated there were fifty. 

ON LAND

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From left to right: Brendan Flack - Puketeraki Marae. Leading cetacean scientist, Professor Liz Slooten – University Of Otago. Huata Holmes – Kaumatua. Gemma McGrath – NZ Dolphin Conservation Consultant.

Pahu play a historic and important role in South Island culture and tradition, and Sea Shepherd New Zealand believes that it is essential to work with local communities, scientists and conservationists if these dolphins stand a chance at survival. This includes keeping an ongoing conversation with Maori hapu who are the kaitiakitanga (guardians) of the treasured Pahu.

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MEDIA

 
 

The launch video for 'Operation Pahu'.

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Merchandise

Support Sea Shepherd New Zealand's efforts in defending our precious marine life by grabbing some exclusive Operation Pahu gear. All proceeds go directly to our efforts in protecting, defending, and conserving our Oceans.

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T-SHIRT

100% ORGANIC COTTON 'OPERATION PAHU' T-SHIRT WITH JOLLY ROGER LOGO FRONT.

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HOODY

100% ORGANIC COTTON FULL ZIP HOODY WITH JOLLY ROGER LOGO FRONT.