The New Zealand sea lion is considered nationally critical – the highest risk category DOC has. We don’t know what the population is, but the best indicator we have is pup numbers, which fell 50% from 1998-2008, and stayed stable since then. If the downward trend resumes, the population could be extinct within two decades.
Incredibly, the Government’s Threat Management Plan for sea lions contains no plan to increase the population of sea lions to remove their threatened status. Is this good enough? Are we content to merely stabilise their population, leaving these animals on the brink of extinction, ready for an unforseen disaster to topple them over?
The main question mark lies over the fishing industry. On the one hand there is no conclusive proof they are causing sea lion deaths, and on the other fishing is the one threat that we have some control over. Why aren’t we experimenting with different fishing zones or methods to see if the sea lion population improves?
You can find out more and have your say on the DOC site. Or Forest and Bird have prepared a quick submission form
The consultation closes at 5pm today (Friday 19 August).