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New Zealanders back Save Our Sealions petition

New Zealanders back Save Our Sealions petition

Forest & Bird’s SOS - Save Our Sealions petition has brought an overwhelming response, attracting more than 4000 signatures in its first month.

The online petition urges the government to reduce the annual New Zealand sealion ‘kill quota’ in the southern squid fishery to close to zero when it is set for the 2007 fishing season in late 2006.

The petition was launched a month ago to mark World Ocean Day (8 June) and in that time it has received 4137 signatures.

Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says the response is fantastic, and reflects the deep concern among many New Zealanders about the unnecessary deaths suffered by sealions in squid trawl nets in New Zealand waters.

“Kiwis are proud to stand up on the world stage and oppose whaling, and they also know that our own threatened marine mammal species need protection here at home.”

“By taking the SOS - Save Our Sealions campaign online we’re empowering Kiwis to send the government a clear message on this urgent conservation issue.”

In an unprecedented move Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton increased the 2006 sealion ‘kill quota’ by 52% from 97 to 150 animals in April during this year’s fishing season, despite the risk that raising it will further contribute to the decline of the New Zealand sealion population.

Once common around all of New Zealand’s coastline, New Zealand sealions now breed only on a few sub-Antarctic islands and sporadically at Otago Peninsula, and are rarely seen elsewhere around the mainland. A protected species under the Wildlife Act, there are now fewer than 12,000 animals and annual pup production has reduced by 30% over the last eight years. The continued use of squid trawling risks an even more rapid decline of this fragile population.

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

Forest & Bird will continue to seek support for its online petition before delivering it to the minister ahead of his setting the next season’s kill quota late this year. The petition can be signed online at Www.Forestandbird.Org.Nz


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