Australian fishery threatens extinction for Sea Lions
Following release of a report revealing an estimated 374 Australian Sea Lions are killed each breeding season in an Australian fishery, HSI is urging the Government to take urgent action to prevent the species’ extinction. The Australian Sea Lion is Australia’s only endemic seal species and is protected as a threatened species under state and Commonwealth law. It is drowning in nets used by shark fishermen off South Australia. The new scientific report states that unless the catch of female Australian Sea Lions in the fishery can be reduced to zero, up to 40% of sub-populations of this threatened species will face extinction and larger sub-populations will also decline.
“The Australian Sea Lion is one of Australia’s unique wildlife treasures, bringing much needed tourism revenue to South Australia, yet fishing activities threaten its very future” said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International “HSI is therefore calling for urgent action to protect this species.”
The Federal Environment Minister has given fishery managers and industry until 30 June 2010 to implement measures, including closures, to enable the recovery of all Australian Sea Lion sub-populations. Expert scientists have stated that in order to avoid further declines of the Australian Sea Lion and the extinction of sub-populations, management arrangements in the fishery need to eliminate bycatch of the females as soon as possible. HSI believes that the only proven option is the closure of fishing grounds where females are most impacted. These must be much greater than the proposed 4 nautical mile (7.4km) closures proposed by industry and HSI will be putting forward these views at a stakeholder meeting this Friday.
“The most effective way to ensure the future of the Australian Sea Lion is for the Government to put in place large closures. Whilst we sympathise with the industry on the impacts these closures may have, the Australian Sea Lion is an important contributor in its own right to the Australian economy and the Government has strict legal obligations to protect it. The Government therefore has no choice but to adopt the expert recommendations to avoid the extinction of one of our native species” concluded Alexia Wellbelove.
HSI has previously launched legal action against the Federal Environment Minister for approving this fishery’s right to export because of its impact on threatened species and negotiated the 30 June 2010 deadline to protect Australian Sea Lions with the Minister. If the deadline is not met HSI will be calling on Peter Garrett to revoke the approval he has given for this fishery to continue exporting its products.