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Action Alert - Sea Lions      

take action

4 May 2010

Help stop the death of hundreds of Australian Sea Lions

Act as soon as possible and by 30th june 2010

A recent report has revealed that an estimated 374 Australian Sea Lions are killed each breeding season in the nets of an Australian fishery, as the animals get tangled and drown. The shark gillnet sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) is a Commonwealth fishery operating off the coast of South Australia. The Australian Sea Lion is Australia's only endemic species of seal, protected as a threatened species under State and Commonwealth law and an icon used extensively by the tourism industry which generates extensive revenue.

Despite this protection, the shark fishery is impacting upon the future of Australian Sea Lions, as hundreds of these animals are killed and classed as ' ˜bycatch'.

A newly released scientific report states that unless the catch of female Australian Sea Lions can be reduced to zero, up to 40% of sub-populations of this threatened species will face extinction and remaining larger sub-populations will also decline.

The Government has clear objectives to conserve the Australian Sea Lion as a threatened species. As a result, the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has imposed a strict condition on the fishery in an attempt to reduce the impact of the fishery on the Australian Sea Lion, Condition 6, which reads:

Extract of Condition 6

In accord with the precautionary principle, as outlined in section 391(2) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999,:

b) by 30 June 2010, taking into account current information and in consultation with marine mammal experts, AFMA to implement long-term management measures, including formal fisheries closures and other actions, that will lead to a significant reduction of the impact of fishing activity on Australian Sea Lions. These measures will be clearly directed towards enabling recovery of the species, including all sub' “populations;

HSI has long held concerns on bycatch in the SESSF fishery, and the current condition and ongoing negotiation is a direct result of past litigation from HSI. As a result we are calling for strict enforcement of this condition.

Negotiations are currently underway between fishery managers, industry and other stakeholders including HSI on how to avoid any further declines in Australian Sea Lion numbers, and to enable their recovery. HSI strongly believes that in order to meet the condition, the bycatch of female Australian Sea Lions needs to be eliminated as soon as possible. The most effective means by which this could be achieved is to close areas of the fishery where females are most impacted. Unfortunately these areas directly coincide with the area fished.

It is imperative that action be taken now to avoid the extinction of any sub-populations of this threatened species.


Write to The Hon. Peter Garrett AM MP, Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia by email to Peter.Garrett.MP@aph.gov.au or by fax to (02) 6273 6101.

Ask the Minister to ensure that strict management arrangements put in place to protect our native Australian Sea Lion, to enable the recovery of all sub-populations. This may involve extensive closures of the SESSF gillnet fishery and any other management measures the Government believes appropriate to meet it's legal obligations to protect the Australian Sea Lion.

Please write as soon as possible, and by 30th June 2010 at the latest.
Image courtesy of Peter Shaughnessy, SA Museum

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