New Zealand PM shrugs off concerns over oil drilling impact on rare dolphins
Published on Jun 24, 2014 1:19 PM
WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Tuesday dismissed concerns about allowing oil exploration in waters set aside to protect the world's rarest dolphin as "mumbo jumbo".
The Maui's dolphin, the world's smallest and rarest sub-species, is found only in shallow waters off the North Island of New Zealand, with scientists estimating there are only about 50 left. A large marine sanctuary has been created to protect the critically endangered animal, which has been dubbed "the hobbit of the sea".
But the government this month revealed it wanted to open up a 3,000 square kilometre area of the reserve to oil exploration.
While conservationists fear a mishap could tip the Maui's over the edge, the government argues that the dolphins do not actually live in the area of marine reserve where exploration will be allowed.
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