Gareth Hughes
Protect our critically endangered New Zealand sea lion

I was fortunate to see some sea lions in the wild yesterday on the Otago Peninsular as I launched our push to protect these critically endangered animals.

Along with sea lion expert Dr Bruce Robertson and Sea Lion Trust Chairman Stephen Broni, I launched an online submission that people can send to the Government urging greater protection. Recent research identified squid fishing as the most likely cause of sea lion population decline on the Auckland Islands. Yet, in a major departure from past policy, the Government in their consultation document is proposing to remove entirely the sea lion by-catch limit for the squid fishery in this area. This is unacceptable and pushed this magnificent animal closer to extinction.

I think the Government was hoping this would fly under the public’s radar just before Christmas, so we need as many submissions sent in as possible.

7 thoughts on “Protect our critically endangered New Zealand sea lion

  1. I think it’s a crime that the sea lion numbers should be allowed to get so low. We need laws which discourage overfishing, and accidental killing of undesired wildlife like sea lions. It would be one more nail in the coffin of our so called clean green image, if Sea Lions went extinct.

    I think the Green party is one of the best hopes for our environment, which includes those poor Sea Lions.

    I would make a submission, but I don’t know if I have anything to add. If I was given some guidelines as what to do, and what is expected of submissions, I might do something. I think the process needs to be bought out into the open, so everyone can see what is needed and wanted for submissions.

    I wrote the above before I clicked on the submission link, so I take most of it back. However the sentiment remains the same.

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  2. The consultation paper has an interesting argument, with some supporting evidence, in support of dropping the FRML. They clearly have not just done this on a whim. However, for me when you have a significant, unexplained and not-yet reversed drop in seal pup numbers you should be very cautious about relaxing or removing the bycatch limits.

    Even if fishing is not responsible for the decline, it could still have an adverse effect on a weakening population, which is not ideal. It comes down to the precautionary principle (which I see the Ministry has decided not to mention…)

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  3. The 21st century: More buildings erected, plumes of smoke hurling off into the sky, more pollution and radiation filling the air and the beloved creatures of mother nature going extinct.
    Something’s gotta be done about this.

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  4. While I find the Ministry’s arguments that bycatch is not a major problem anymore fairly convincing, I think it misses the main point – that competition with fishers for food is probably a major contributor to the sea lions’ population decline. There are other studies that seem to support this – e.g. Chilvers 2009 (http://www.nzes.org.nz/nzje/new_issues/NZJEcol33_2_106.pdf) and Meynier 2009 (http://www.bod.com/index.php?id=3435&objk_id=249817). So I’m not sure that retaining the by-catch limit would help that much. Chilvers suggests expanding the existing reserve to the 500 m depth contour.

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  5. There must be some laws to protect wild life and authorities must concentrate on keeping the food chain live otherwise there will be a drastic imbalance in nature.

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  6. Good evening
    I joined the Green party and voted Green in the hope that the party would be active about the Rena disaster. Unless I have missed the news I have seen no real activity. After the initial fiasco and slow salvage response aqnd operation the obvious has happened the Rena has broken and cargo and oil released and more animals affected. We all knew that this would happen and yet once again no plan was in operation. Where was the Greens suggested plan?? Where is the Green voice to counteract Mr Brownlee? It is probably cheaper to let the ship break up and mop up the disaster, a band aid result. I am sure that is the National party plan. Is that what my party supports. This is a relatively small mirror of what is to come in NZ if no party does not take the initiative and provide a researched strategy.

    June Kendall. MSc(hons Zoology) PhD.

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  7. Hi June

    I want to respond because you are right, its important Greens are sharing their viewpoint on the Rena disaster. I want to let you know I have been researching, commenting in the media and making statements over the holidays but obviously can’t control what’s in the media. If you have any ideas for points we could be making, angles we could present to the media or just any views I’d love to hear them. I’ll keep trying.
    A main point Ive been making is New Zealand needs a government that doesn’t just manage disasters, spending huge amounts of taxpayers money in the process, when incidents like the Rena were avoidable and with some decent rules in place probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Our environment is just too precious to risk.
    Just before the Election the Green Party released a five point plan to minimise risks of accidents such as these in the future and have consistently been calling for an independent inquiry to learn the lessons: http://www.greens.org.nz/oilspillprotection
    I hope you can have confidence that the Green team is doing all we can and thanks so much for your support as a member.
    Gareth

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