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Sea lion kills force closure of squid fishery

Saturday, 29 March 2003 Media Statement

Sea lion kills force closure of squid fishery

An unacceptable number of sea lion kills has forced the closure of the Auckland Islands squid fishery, Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

Mr Hodgson said it was estimated that 79 sea lions had been killed in squid trawl nets by 23 March, exceeding the limit of 70 set by the Operational Plan for the fishery.

The closure is effective from midday today.

The operational plan for the fishery sets out a mechanism, based on weekly reports of fishing activity and sea lion interactions, to estimate the sea lion strike rate and the consequent number of deaths. This mechanism applies in weeks where the squid fleet fishing in the Auckland Islands squid fishery does not maintain a minimum level of Ministry of Fisheries observers on boats.

The Auckland Islands squid trawling season usually begins on 1 February. Its length depends on catch rates and the number of sea lion kills.

The Auckland Island squid fishery has been closed due to excessive sea lion kills in six of the past eight seasons.

Sea lion exclusion devices are being tested in the fishery to see whether they successfully expel sea lions from squid nets, but it is not yet clear that the devices expel sea lions from the net alive and without serious injury.


ENDS

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