Department Of Conservation
Dolphin Seafaris and our vessel ‘Guardian’ is fully licensed to operate with marine mammals by the Department of Conservation.
We work very closely with them to ensure that the interests and welfare of the Bay of Plenty dolphins is paramount and we operate to the full set of guidelines set down by them for interaction by humans with wild dolphins.
All operators in the Bay are only allowed to spend a total time of 90 minutes per trip with dolphins, of which includes a maximum time of 60 minutes in water experience. So no matter how long a trip can be, all operators are only allowed to be with the dolphins for a maximum time of 1.5 hours.
All permits in New Zealand state that no operator may swim with dolphins when juveniles are present.
Marine and Coastal Conservation
Marine conservation is an important responsibility of the Department of Conservation.
DOC is responsible for marine reserves and for marine mammals such as dolphins, whales, sea lions and fur seals.
The Department also administers the regulations for the whale and dolphin watching industry.
Less than 0.1 per cent of New Zealand’s marine environment is currently protected, compared to about 30 per cent of its land area.
The Department is also responsible for the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement which promotes the sustainable management of the natural and physical resources of the foreshore, seabed, coastal water and airspace from the high tide mark to the 12 nautical mile limit.
Whale and dolphin watching
The Department administers the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, developed to manage the rapidly growing whale and dolphin-watching industry. These establish a public procedure for applying for permits to conduct passengers to view marine mammals and prescribe appropriate behaviour for all boats (and aircraft) in their vicinity.
A major research programme has been undertaken, assessing the impact of tourist vessels on the behaviour of sperm whales and dusky dolphins at Kaikoura and bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands.