A decade-long program to protect Australian sea lions from a damaging fishing method known as gillnetting has borne fruit off South Australia with new research revealing captures in a Commonwealth fishery have been reduced by 98%….
HSI has remained steadfast in campaigning to ensure the threats seals and sea lions face from fishing are minimised as far as possible.
In 2010, HSI was instrumental in ensuring a robust Australian sea lion management strategy was put in place in South Australian waters in the gillnet section of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). The protections for sea lions HSI achieved included sanctuaries which saw sea lion mortalities from bycatch drop dramatically from over 300 every 18 months to a much rarer event.
With only 2,000 Australian sea lions remaining in Western Australia in small, isolated colonies, HSI embarked on similar action to campaign for exclusion zones to be implemented in the state. HSI joined forces with the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Conservation Council of Western Australia to highlight the frustrating lack of action over the past decade to protect sea lions in Western Australia.
The Department then confirmed that gillnet exclusion zones will be put in place around each of the sub-colonies, ranging from 6 to 33 kilometres each. This is great news to help protect Australian sea lions, however we remain concerned that not all colonies have our preferred option of a 20 kilometre exclusion zone.
HSI remains concerned about the ongoing decline in Australian sea lion sub-populations in both Western Australia and South Australia, and so in 2016 we submitted an EPBC nomination to uplist the the species to Endangered. In December 2020 the Australian sea lion has since received upgraded protection under Australian law. As a result, the Australian sea lion is now recognised as Endangered rather than the lower category of Vulnerable.