• 1.
    Entanglement in gillnets constitutes the greatest known threat to populations of small cetaceans. In 1988, in response to data on the distribution and abundance, incidental catch, reproduction and population biology of Hector's dolphins, and after an extended period of public consultation, New Zealand's Department of Conservation created a 1170 km2 Marine Mammal Sanctuary. Within this area, gillnetting on a commercial scale is illegal and amateur fishers may only set gillnets in specific times and places.
  • 2.
    This paper summarizes the salient points of research that led to the creation of the sanctuary, briefly describes the process by which the sanctuary was established, and offers some comments on the information required for conservation management of small cetaceans.