New Zealand has voted against further protection measures for Maui's and Hector's dolphins at the world's largest conservation summit in Jeju, Korea.
New Zealand was one of two countries to oppose further protection measures in a secret vote at the International Union for Conservation of Nature's conference.
A vote was held on New Zealand banning gill and trawl nets in waters up to 100 metres deep - 117 countries and 459 organisations voted for the move.
New Zealand voted against, saying it was not backed by scientific evidence.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
A Department of Conservation staff member told the congress the Ministry for Primary Industries had instructed it to vote that way.
DoC had not approved of the ministry's dolphin protection measures.
Green MP Gareth Hughes alongside other political parties and environmental groups have called the vote "outrageous".
"By voting against essential protection for the world's most endangered marine dolphin, the New Zealand government has acted shamefully and can no longer claim to be leaders in conservation," said Rebecca Bird, WWF's Marine Programme Manager.