Precautionary Principle

The Precautionary Principle is a strategy to cope with possible risks where evidence and scientific understanding is yet incomplete.  It recognizes that delaying action due to a lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation and harm1 (i.e. further local decline or extinction of wildlife). Use of the principle promotes action to avert serious risks and threats that may be irreversible or too costly to avert once harm becomes evident2. An example of legislation and regulations that specifically integrates the precautionary principle has been developed to protect critically endangered dolphins in New Zealand. The protective legal umbrella sheltering the dolphins includes statutory regimes regulating in fishing, vessel movements and marine mining3.

2 Rio Declaration, article 15. 
3 Winterbottom. T.D., Morgan. G., Bava. R., Calderwood. M., Chen. M, Foster. N., Hansard, B., Thomson. S., Tulloch. J.  The effectiveness of the precautionary principle in endangered species protection (marine mammals) in New Zealand. 

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