The majority of New Zealanders believe the Government should spend money to help fishing companies move to dolphin-friendly practices, according to a new poll.

The Colmar-Brunton poll was commissioned by WWF, which is seeking a marine sanctuary from Maunganui Bluff to the Whanganui river mouth, including harbours, out to 100 metres deep, to protect the critically endangered Maui's dolphin.

The poll asked the question: "Do you think the Government should spend money to assist the commercial fishers to transition to new methods of fishing?"

Sixty two per cent of respondents said they did, 21 per cent did not and 17 per cent didn't know.


WWF New Zealand head of campaigns Peter Hardstaff said the Government needed to listen to the majority of New Zealanders.

"The Government needs to stop using the fishing community as an excuse for not providing the full protection Maui's dolphins need.

"The fishing community needs support to transition away from practices that harm dolphins and the majority of New Zealanders agree the Government should help."

There are only about 55 Maui's dolphins left, making them the world's rarest, as well as the smallest, dolphin species.