Marine mammals paying the price for commercial fishing

Under National, commercial fishers are getting away with killing supposedly protected native wildlife including sea lions, dolphins and fur seals, and our marine mammals need better protection, the Green Party said today.

“There is a large disparity between how many marine mammals the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) estimate are being killed by commercial fishers, and how few the industry reports it has caught and killed in its nets,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“New Zealanders should be appalled that the fishing industry reported catching and killing 784 fur seals in the past six years, but MPI estimates that figure is more than 3000.

“This data shows that when no one’s looking the fishing industry is killing New Zealand sea lions and fur seals and failing to report it. It shows the fishing industry can't be trusted to self-regulate.

“We don’t let hunters accidentally kill kakapo or kiwi, so MPI and Minister Nathan Guy shouldn’t let the fishing industry away with killing an extraordinary number of endangered New Zealand sea lions and fur seals .

“MPI estimates that 156 sea lions were captured by the trawl industry from 2008/09 to 2014/15 inclusive, but fishers themselves only reported catching six. It’s the same with other marine mammals; MPI observers saw 57 fur seals captured during a third of the time spent fishing, but when observers were not around, miraculously no fur seals were captured.

“The fishing industry must switch to safer fishing practices that don't kill  the endangered New Zealand sea lions and other marine mammals.”

Today is the last day for public submissions on the draft Squid 6T Operational Plan, that will set a limit on how many sea lions can be killed by fishing trawlers. The plan proposes to allow the fishing industry to kill 38 sea lions each year.

“That number should be zero,” said Ms Sage.

“The Green Party in government would stop trawl fishing around the Auckland Islands, the sea lions’ main breeding habitat to protect our sea lions. We would ensure there is adequate research into the effectiveness of Sea Lion Exclusion Devices and the extent to which sea lions are injured or killed by them before being ejected from trawl nets.

“We need to put the survival of our endangered sea lions ahead of the interests of the commercial fishing industry,” said Ms Sage. 

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