Squid trawling around our endangered sea lions needs to stop right now you can help us
With recent research highlighting the plight of sea lions, now is the time to ask for change from the government about further protecting our endangered sea lions.
Our NZ sea lions are the rarest sea lions in the world, but new research has highlighted they’re more in danger of extinction than ever before. The largest breeding colony found around the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands have declined by approximately 50% since 1998.
Published research, released today by Otago University (Meyer et al. 2015 – Conservation Priorities NZ sea lion) and endorsed by Forest & Bird says that reducing pup mortality rate is unlikely to reverse the decline in the species. The government’s focus is largely on reducing pup mortality rates by further investigating disease.
The Otago study showed that survival of the adult female New Zealand sea lions is the key to managing their future. Forest & Bird has always supported robust science, and it clearly indicates that the biggest threat to the sea lion population are fisheries impacts, both direct (by-catch) and indirect (resource competition).
The most frustrating thing is that it’s so easily fixed. Fishing trawlers can catch squid elsewhere around the coast – they don’t have to be in the same location as our endangered sea lions – and if they changed from trawling to jigging – there would be zero deaths of sea lions and our sea birds.
The issue is that the squid fishing season which operates in the sub-Antarctic waters coincides with the NZ sea lion breeding and nursing period. This means that any mother accidentally killed by trawling nets whilst foraging for food has a hungry pup waiting for her back on shore. The by-catch of adult females in fishing nets needs to be immediately stopped if we want to protect the future of this species.
While the area around the Auckland Island is a Marine Mammal Sanctuary, it doesn’t extend far enough offshore to protect the waters that these sea lions forage in.
Forest & Bird is calling for immediate action by the government to save our NZ sea lion.
Forest & Bird is urging all New Zealanders to get behind the New Zealand sea lion and make the government listen and take immediate action. You can lobby your local MP and raise this concern, or please send an email Nathan Guy our Minister for Primary Industries and Maggie Barry our Minister for Conservation.