Decisive measures introduced to tackle incidental Sea Lion capture

The Minister of Fisheries, Hon Stuart Nash, has announced management measures that will apply to the Southern Squid Trawl Fishery (SQU6T) to manage the incidental capture of New Zealand Sea Lions.

The Fishing Related Mortality Limit (FRML) will be set at 38, includes the following arrangements to monitor the FRML:

  • a minimum of 70% coverage by MPI Observers of tows in SQU6T
  • 72-hour notice to MPI of any trip intending to operate in SQU6T; and
  • notification to MPI of any marine mammal captures within 48 hours.

The FRML of 38 defines the maximum number of sea lion mortalities that may occur in the fishery before it is closed.

The current modelling information that was developed in support of the New Zealand Sea Lion/Rāpoka Threat Management Plan (TMP) has been peer-reviewed by the DOC Conservation Services Programme Technical Working Group, the MPI Aquatic Environment Working Group, and by an independent panel of international marine mammal experts. These groups include representatives from all sectors, all of which have endorsed the existing model and risk assessment methods and outputs.

Officials have been instructed to prioritise research into cryptic mortality and sea lion exclusion device (SLED) efficacy, and also to look for ways that research in these areas can be expedited, which may provide the opportunity to review this plan sooner than the current two-year timeframe.

Relevant research utilising camera monitoring in SLEDs currently underway in Australia will also be considered and incorporated as appropriate to better inform the overall understanding of SLEDs.

Although the operational plan is intended to apply until 2019, the Minister of Fisheries reserves the right to review the plan prior to that date should additional information (including reports of sea lion mortalities or outcomes from new research) demonstrate the need for an earlier review.

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