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NZ sea lions deserve greater protection

5 September 2013

NZ sea lions deserve greater protection

The Government should take a precautionary approach and immediately close this season's Southern Blue Whiting fishery around the Campbell Islands to protect the critically endangered New Zealand sea lion, the Green Party said today.

“Sixteen New Zealand sea lion deaths are sixteen too many, given that these creatures are critically endangered and their population is declining,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

Ms Sage was responding to the Government's announcement the Southern Blue Whiting fishery around the Campbell Islands has been responsible for 16 New Zealand sea lion fatalities in the past three weeks. The Government is now requiring that all fishing vessels in the Southern Blue Whiting fishery around the Campbell Islands use sea lion exclusion devices, which are essentially escape hatches. The population of New Zealand sea lions is estimated to be 10,000 and 12,000, with 80 percent living on the Auckland Islands and 20 percent on the Campbell Islands.

“The efficacy of exclusion devices has not been proven so the Government is being reckless to rely on them to save sea lions,” said Ms Sage.

“There is considerable uncertainty about the condition of sea lions once they escape fishing nets via exclusion devices, so the best and surest way to protect the endangered sea lion is to stop lethal fishing methods in its habitat.

“The Conservation Minister said himself that the fatality of 16 sea lions from fishing is unacceptable. The only way for him to ensure that more sea lions don't die this year in fishing nets is to close this season’s fishery.

“The Government ought to be using the precautionary principle to allow the New Zealand sea lion to recover to a healthy population level,” said Ms Sage.


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