DOC is risking sea lions slide to extinction

Press Release: Environmental Defence Society

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has responded to the announcement by the Department of Conservation that it is releasing a Species Management Plan for the New Zealand Sea Lion.

“This so-called Species Management Plan is a disgrace,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“The Species Management Plan is non-statutory, has no teeth, covers too short a time frame (5 years) to make any difference and is full of waffle. It is a clear sign that DOC is prepared to risk the extinction of the New Zealand Sea Lion.

“What is required is a Population Management Plan (PMP) under the Marine Mammals Act 1978. This would address one of the main threats to population recovery, the impacts of fishing activity. But DOC has abandoned that approach allegedly because “significant new information” has become available. But that information – whatever it is – has not been made public.

“A PMP has teeth. Its prime role is to set the maximum number of sea lions which can be killed by the fishing industry each year. By law, this number must allow the species to achieve non-threatened status within 20 years.

“The New Zealand Sea Lion is the rarest sea lion species in the world. It was hunted to near extinction during the early 1800s and has only made a slow recovery since.

“By refusing to use the key statutory tool available for managing the species back to sustainable population levels, DOC is either being negligent or is acknowledging deficiencies in the existing law and underlining the need for reform.

“EDS considers that the Minister of Conservation needs to intervene and provide some much-needed leadership in this matter. We either need a PMP, or legal reform to provide other effective statutory tools to ensure the recovery of this unique, endemic species,” Gary Taylor concluded.

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Filed under animals, biodiversity, conservation, endangered, environment, environmentalism, extinction, nature, wildlife, zoology

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