Squid fishers congratulated on response to fall in sea lion numbers
27 January 2009
Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley and Ministry of Fisheries Chief Executive Wayne McNee have today congratulated the squid fishing industry on their responsible approach to today’s announcement by the Department of Conservation of a 30% fall in the number of sea lion pups.
The Deepwater Group (representing the majority of squid quota owners) has announced the squid fishing industry will respond to this decline by voluntarily reducing fishing activity in the Auckland Islands squid fishery as an interim measure for the 2009 fishing season. This measure effectively reduces the sea lion fishing related mortality limit from 113 to 95 sea lions.
“When I became aware of this decline in sea lion pup numbers I requested that the squid fishing industry consider voluntarily reducing the sea lion fishing related mortality limit,” said Mr Heatley.
“I am very pleased the squid fishing industry has responded by taking a responsible and cautious approach.
“Their willingness to work with me and the Ministry of Fisheries to minimise the risk to sea lions is most gratifying,” he said.
Mr McNee said with the Auckland Islands squid fishery due to open this weekend a voluntary reduction was the most effective way to respond quickly and responsibly to the new information.
The Department of Conservation says the latest research on sea lion populations in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands provisionally shows a 30% fall in the number of sea lion pups and a reduction in the number of female sea lions coming ashore.
It is not known what is causing this decline but DOC scientists on the Auckland Islands are carrying out further research.
“While we are confident this decline is not being caused by fishing, we need to take these figures into account and make sure that the impact of fishing is particularly well managed” said Mr McNee.