The government of New Zealand says it plans to ban commercial fishing near its coast to protect a rare species of dolphin.

The population of the species, called Hector's dolphin, has declined dramatically and fishing is blamed for a majority of the known deaths.

New Zealand's fisheries minister, Jim Anderton, says that while the government took protective steps in recent years it is clear that stronger measures are necessary.

Anderton says fisherman are unlikely to be happy with the measure, which he estimates will cost the fishing industry jobs and losses of up to $62 million over the next five to 10 years.

New Zealand's coastal waters are home to more than 7,000 Hector's dolphins. A sub-species, the Maui dolphin, numbers slightly more than 100.

The small white, gray and black dolphins grow to about 1.4 meters and sometimes get caught in fishing nets.

The two types of dolphins breed slowly and are much smaller than Bottlenose dolphins which grow up to four meters in size.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.