Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Low count triggers new plan for endangered NZ sea lion

Low count triggers new plan for endangered New Zealand sea lion

A Threat Management Plan for the New Zealand sea lion is to be developed in response to this season’s low pup count on the Auckland Islands, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today from the HMNZS Wellington at Port Ross in conjunction with Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“The New Zealand sea lion is the rarest in the world and New Zealand’s only endemic seal. The 1575 pups counted on the Auckland Islands this year is down 18 per cent on last year and is cause for concern. It is the third lowest since monitoring began in the mid-1990s and shows an on-going trend of decline over the last decade. We need to step up our efforts to ensure these sea lions survive,” Dr Smith says.

The New Zealand (or Hooker) sea lion once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with their habitat extending throughout New Zealand. However, in the nineteenth century the species was decimated for its blubber and skins, and in August 1997 when he was last Minister, Dr Smith declared the sea lions to be a threatened species under the Marine Mammals Protection Act.

The New Zealand sea lion mainly breeds on the Auckland Islands (70 per cent of the species) and Campbell Island (30 per cent), with small numbers found on Stewart Island. The more encouraging advice is that breeding numbers on Campbell Island are showing improvement and in the last decade, the sea lion has started breeding on the South Otago coast line.

“The cause of the decline in the Auckland Island sea lion population is not clear. A wider investigation was initiated in 2012 that indicated that environmental change and prey abundance were likely to have played a role in the population decline. There is also evidence that a bacterial disease has reduced pup survival rates over the last two decades,” Dr Smith says.

“A decade ago, fishing for squid, scampi and southern blue whiting was catching and killing an estimated 100 sea lion per year. This number has declined significantly with the Sea Lion Exclusion Devices (SLEDs) developed by the fishing industry. Despite high levels of observer coverage, only a small number of incidental captures have been observed in recent years. SLEDs are a great innovation but we need to continue to monitor the use and effectiveness of these devices,” Mr Guy says.

“The purpose of developing a new Threat Management Plan for the New Zealand sea lion is to review all the risks and explore all possible measures to ensure their survival. Options include active field management such as intervening to reduce the several hundred deaths from misadventure and disease, extending or creating new marine mammal sanctuaries under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, or additional measures to reduce impacts of fishing,” Dr Smith says.

“We are bringing forward the development of this new plan because we want DOC and the Ministry for Primary Industries to get the work underway promptly. The existing operational plan was for this to be triggered if pup numbers dropped below 1500. The two agencies need to work together on this new plan so as to better protect our sea lions, while also recognising that these fisheries generate over $100 million per year in export earnings for New Zealand,” the Ministers say.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Disobeying The Law: Police Censorship Of Crime Research “An Outrage”

The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data, the Green Party says. More>>


Q+A Transcript: Groser ‘Not Expecting’ Failure At UN Climate Talks

‘I will be very surprised if we don’t get an agreement. I think it’s a completely different situation to Copenhagen for a number of reasons. We’ve got a much more realistic negotiating proposal on the table. Secondly, I think the science has strengthened...’ More>>


Greenpeace Protest:

Climate Talks, Immigration And Housing: PM's Post Cabinet Press Conference

Prime Minister John Key began by talking about his recent attendance at the APEC and ASEAN summits. He segued neatly from the opportunities available in Vietnam to outlining his upcoming itinerary which includes Malta, Paris and Berlin. More>>


After Urgent Law Change: Beneficiaries Urged To Act Immediately

I am hoping that thousands more people will be enabled to lodge their review... people without internet, who don't even realise that this has been happening. If just a fraction of the people on facebook can help others to put in reviews tomorrow it could improve so many more peoples Christmas. More>>


Auckland: Phil Goff To Run For Mayor In 2016

Phil Goff has today announced his decision to stand as an Independent candidate for Mayor of Auckland next year... As Mayor, Phil Goff will focus on a number of issues that directly impact on the lives of Aucklanders, including tackling traffic congestion and increasing the housing supply. More>>


Foreign Affairs: Mike Moore To Step Down As US Ambassador

Yvonne and I are giving notice to MFAT that we will be leaving the Post just before Christmas on the 16th December... I am now the longest serving continuous Ambassador to the US. I didn’t seek this job but felt I should do it because great issues were at stake. The time was ripe for it. More>>


Fox Glacier: Seven Dead In Helicopter Crash

The operation to recover the victims of Saturday’s helicopter crash at Fox Glacier is a technically challenging task calling for specialist skills in an unforgiving environment, says operation commander Inspector John Canning. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news