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Kiwis sign up to “Save Our Sealions”

14 June 2006 - Wellington

Kiwis sign up to “Save Our Sealions”

More than a thousand New Zealanders in one week have signed a petition to save sealions from being killed in squid fishing nets.

Forest & Bird launched the on-line petition to Save Our Sealions a week ago (June 7) to coincide with World Ocean Day and in its first week the petition has already attracted 1042 signatures.

The level of support for the petition was proof that a large number of New Zealanders want to stop the needless slaughter of sealions in the southern squid fishery, Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says.

“We are delighted by the response. It is fantastic to know that many New Zealanders are concerned about the plight of our unique ‘kiwi’ marine mammals, and do not believe that they should become the innocent victims of industrial-scale trawl nets,” Kirstie Knowles says.

She says the total number of signatures collected in the first week will go still higher because “hard copies” of the petition distributed to Forest & Bird members and branches are yet to be returned and counted.

The petition asks the Government to reduce the number of sealions the squid fishing industry is allowed to kill to close to zero. This season Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton raised the “kill quota”from 97 to 150 animals, despite the risk that raising the kill quota will further contribute to the decline of the sealion population.

Forest & Bird is encouraging the squid fishing industry to adopt the jigging method of fishing, which does not harm sealions.

Forest & Bird will continue to seek support for its petition before delivering it to the Minister ahead of his setting the next season’s kill quota late this year. The petition is at http://www.forestandbird.org.nz.

ENDS

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