New Zealanders call for better protection for NZ sea lions

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New Colmar Brunton polling released today shows that an overwhelming number of New Zealanders want the government to do more to protect endangered NZ sea lions from being accidentally caught and killed in fishing nets.

The research, commissioned by WWF-New Zealand, has found 84% of Kiwis agree that the number of NZ sea lions/rāpoka being accidentally killed by fishing should be further reduced.

“These are the world’s rarest sea lions and they live right here in New Zealand,” said WWF-New Zealand campaigner David Tong. “NZ sea lions are listed as ‘nationally critical’, and without further action this species is at risk of extinction.

“Although New Zealand sea lions are also affected by disease and food shortages, accidental killing in fishing nets is the biggest human threat these precious animals face,” Mr Tong said. “It is also the problem that we are most able to solve.”

NZ sea lions once lived all around the New Zealand coastline. Now they live mostly on New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands. Their population has halved over the last 15 years.

“This poll shows that New Zealanders agree that the government should do more to protect this precious species. There needs to be a precautionary approach that reduces the number of NZ sea lions that fishing nets accidentally kill each year, along with investment in research to better understand the impact of fishing.”

On 8 August, the New Zealand government released a new draft squid fishing plan for consultation. The ‘Squid 6T Operational Plan’ regulates trawling for squid around the Auckland Islands, home to the most important breeding colony of NZ sea lions.

“WWF-New Zealand urges Kiwis to speak out for sea lions and make a submission on the squid fishing plan,” Mr Tong said. “Already, hundreds of people all over the country have made submissions on this plan, calling on the Ministry for Primary Industries to take a precautionary approach to fishing in NZ sea lions’ habitat to better protect this species. Together, it’s possible to save our sea lions.”

To make your submission on the Squid 6T Operational Plan’ visit www.wwf.org.nz/take_action/save_our_sea_lions/

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Louisa is the Communications Manager for WWF-New Zealand (World Wide Fund for Nature). She has extensive experience in the areas of media, communications and public relations. Her pen, camera and sense of humour have led her to wonderful work locations throughout Australia, Canada, USA, Solomon Islands, Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and Peru. She was raised on a sheep and cattle farm in Outback Australia. Her specialty sectors are the environment (forest/marine/species conservation and climate change), crisis communications (biosecurity, floods and cyclones), and agriculture (livestock and broad-acre farming). She is an Open Water-accredited diver and has explored underwater ecosystems in the Solomon Islands and Cambodia.

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