There could be up to 1000 New Zealand sea lions feeding
offshore from Otago by 2040 - all competing with recreational
and commercial fishermen for fish.
And in a paper published recently in journal Fisheries
Management and Ecology, researchers have proposed a series of
to prevent the situation turning into a costly and
''The sea lions will take several times more fish than what
combined recreational and commercial fisheries take,''
researcher Amelie Auge, who took part in the study while at
the University of Otago, said.
It was important preventive management measures were decided
upon soon to limit costs to fishermen, she said.
The New Zealand sea lion population established on Otago
Peninsula in 1994 was increasing slowly, with about 12
breeding adult females this year. It was estimated about 250
animals could live on the peninsula by 2031, increasing to
1000 by 2044.
Sea lions were critically endangered, and their being caught
in the nets of commercial fishermen around Auckland Island
breeding and fishing grounds had resulted in controversy and
costs from trying to remedy the situation.
Management options needed to be progressively implemented by
fishermen and conservationists to avoid conflict off Otago
Peninsula, she said.
Options should include marine protected areas, local fishing
quotas and management of sea lion numbers, although that was
illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, she said.
Additional information was needed on marine production areas,
fish stocks and sea lion population dynamics around Otago
Peninsula for some of those steps to be implemented.
''An MPA (marine protected area) or a network of MPAs with
fishing restrictions or no-take zones would ensure bycatch,
depredation and competition issues are avoided.''
These plans could also solve issues of bycatch of yellow-eyed
penguins, she said.