INDEPENDENT NEWS

Forest & Bird condemns 40% rise in sea lion quota

Published: Sun 21 Dec 2008 05:00 PM
19 December 2008 – Wellington
Forest & Bird media release for immediate use
Forest & Bird condemns 40% rise in sea lion quota
Forest & Bird is shocked that squid fishers will be allowed to kill 40 per cent more threatened New Zealand sea lions in the coming season.
New Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley announced today that the number of sea lions allowed to be killed in the squid fishery this season has been raised from 81 last year to 113.
“The kill quota should be zero,” Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says. “Sea lion populations are small and are declining, and we should be doing everything we can to protect all sea lions.”
The rise in the kill quota is despite the elevated threat status of the sea lions, which are found only in New Zealand waters. They have been classified as a threatened species since 1997, and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) this year elevated their threat status by listing them as being in decline.
“Forest & Bird is very disappointed with the decision because the scientific assessment this year shows that the maximum limit that the Minister could have set should be half last year’s,” Kirstie Knowles says.
Given that about 82 per cent of sea lions killed in trawl nets are female, and highly likely to be pregnant and have a pup on shore, this equates to three sea lion deaths: the mother, its unborn pup and the pup that starves to death on shore.
Forest & Bird is concerned about the discount rate squid fishers get if they use sea lion exclusion devices (SLEDs), which have an escape hatch for sea lions that get caught in trawl nets. The discount rate means the fishers are allowed to catch more sea lions in their nets without penalty.
“There should be no discount rate for SLEDs because, despite years of work on these devices, there is still no evidence that sea lions survive once they get out of the net,” Kirstie Knowles says.
Forest & Bird wants the squid fishery to stop using indiscriminate trawl nets and try alternative fishing methods, such as jigging, that don’t harm sea lions, or fish away from the Sub-Antarctic waters where sea lions feed.
”Forest & Bird would also like to see more Ministry of Fisheries observers on squid boats. It’s a strange coincidence that the only sea lions reported being caught in nets last season were from boats that official observers on board.
“It is almost certain that boats without observers are deliberately not reporting sea lion captures.”
Forest & Bird – New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation, with 40,000 members – has been asking new Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley to reduce the sea lion quota since he took office.
ends

Next in New Zealand politics

On Whether This Election Is Already A Foregone Conclusion
By: Gordon Campbell
Newshub-Reid Research Poll Shows National Rising But Labour Still Governing Alone
By: Mediaworks
SFO Files Charges In Relation To NZ First Foundation Donations
By: Serious Fraud Office
Business Leaders’ Confidence Tanks As Top Kiwi CEOs Vent Their Frustrations
By: New Zealand Media and Entertainment
Taking Action To Reduce Waste And Plastics
By: New Zealand Labour Party
On Last Night’s Leaders Debate
By: Gordon Campbell
Dunne Speaks: The Election Campaign Just Grinds Slowly On And On
By: Peter Dunne
Electoral Commission: Candidate And Party Lists Released
By: Electoral Commission
National Releases Its Plan To Restore NZ’s Prosperity
By: New Zealand National Party
The 2020 New Zealand Election Is Not A Foregone Conclusion.
By: Keith Rankin
Overseas Voting Starts On Wednesday
By: Electoral Commission
Politicians To Go Head To Head On Education Issues In Election Debate
By: NZEI Te Riu Roa
New Zealand First Fully Exonerated Of All SFO Charges
By: New Zealand First Party
Links to two judgments in the SFO's NZ First Foundation case
By: New Zealand High Court
Green Party Responds To NZ First Foundation SFO Charges
By: Green Party
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media