Minister reduces limit for NZ sea lion deaths
Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Agriculture
Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries
Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education
6 December 2005 Media release
Minister reduces limit for New Zealand sea lion deaths
Action to increase protection of the sea lion population in the southern squid trawl area, SQU 6T, was taken by Fisheries Minister, Jim Anderton today.
The southern squid trawl fishery will now be closed after 18 fewer fishing-related sea lion deaths than last season. The Minister has set the maximum number of deaths for the 2005-2006 fishing year at 97. Last season’s limit was 115.
The southern squid trawl SQU 6T fishery operates around the Auckland Islands, from February to April or May, or until the fishing-related mortality limit for sea lions is reached.
The New Zealand sea lion, formerly known as the Hooker's sea lion, is classified as threatened under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, meaning it is not immediately threatened with extinction but is potentially vulnerable to population decline.
"New Zealand sea lions eat squid and are at risk of capture and drowning when they follow squid into trawl nets. It is a difficult decision to set limits on the number of deaths allowable every year before closing the area to squid fishing, but the number is being reduced annually,” said Mr Anderton.
The Department of Conservation is currently developing a Population Management Plan for New Zealand sea lions as provided under the Marine Mammals Protection Act.
This plan will provide a long term management regime, rather than the current annual management plan. It will establish a maximum allowable level of fishing-related mortality for sea lions and could include advice on measures to minimise the number of fishing related deaths.