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No excuse for killing another 53 sea lions

March 21, 2006

No excuse for killing another 53 sea lions

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton should resist considering the sanctioned killing of 150 New Zealand sea lions over a four month period in the southern squid trawl fishery.

Mr Anderton said last night he was considering allowing an extra 53 sea lions to be killed between February and April on top of the annual allowable 'mortality limit' of 97.

"This is a not only one of our most beautiful indigenous animals, it is also a threatened species under the Marine Mammals Protection Act," Greens Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says. "There's considerable doubt about the total population and any decision to allow another 53 deaths would be risky."

The proposed decision on "official" deaths did not take into account a long-term problem that not all sea lion deaths due to fishing were reported.

"The minister has failed to promise any rigorous surveillance of the squid fleet," Mrs Turei says. "If he does take the side of the squid fishers he risks becoming the clone of National Party fisheries ministers who used to boost allowable sea lion deaths as a matter of course whenever the fishing industry wanted it.

"He would in effect be rewarding the industry when it should be more closely scrutinised, given the potential for non-reporting.

"Mr Anderton's statement that there is more squid around and that 'New Zealand is presented with an opportunity to capitalise on this valuable resource' is the kind of language that implies he is leaning strongly towards allowing the boosted sea lion kill, and also towards the short-sighted and anti-wildlife stance of right-wing MPs of last century," Mrs Turei says.

"What is the point of setting these `maximum allowable limit of fishing-related mortality' numbers if the minister is going to exceed them every time the industry kills too many of our endangered wildlife."

ENDS


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