SEA LIONS LAST ROAR?
The New Zealand sea lion (left) is one of the rarest in the world and is classified by the Department of Conservation as ‘nationally critical’: the same classification given to the kakapo and Maui’s dolphin.
More than 95% of the breeding population of this species occurs on two small breeding sites in the Auckland Islands, in New Zealand’s sub-antarctic zone. Their foraging range overlaps the fishing grounds of the southern squid trawl fishery and leads to the accidental drowning of sea lions in trawl nets as they attempt to eat the squid. In response, Forest and Bird and WWF are calling for increased research and regulation to protect them.
A new scientific study from the Department of Conservation has suggested that New Zealand’s sea lions are likely to become extinct within the next 23 years if the killing goes on. But in a position paper released last year, the Ministry of Fisheries said the sea lion death rate had “declined markedly in recent years” and proposed removing regulations that could close fisheries if too many sea lions are killed.
A decision on this is due by the end of this month.