Suggestions that marine protected areas could help manage
possible future conflicts between fishers and sea lions need
to be acted on, Forest and Bird Otago Southland conservation
officer Sue Maturin says.
''Otago urgently needs some marine reserves. We are one of
the last regions in New Zealand not to have a marine
They were proven to increase fish numbers both inside and
outside reserves. ''So a network of reserves could help feed
both fishers and sea lions,'' she said, commenting on
research by former University of Otago scientist Amelie Auge.
Ms Auge's work proposed marine protected areas (MPAs) as a
way of managing increasing sea lion numbers along Otago coast
and fishing interests.
It would be ''fantastic'' if sea lions became well
established in Otago, because they were rapidly declining at
their home base in the Auckland Islands, due to the direct
and indirect impacts of fishing, Ms Maturin said.
''Their hold in Otago is precarious and we are concerned that
some are criminally shot, or deliberately harmed and ask that
this summer people report any suspicious behaviour around sea
New Zealand Sea Lion Trust chairman Steve Broni said the
trust applauded Ms Auge's suggestions of MPAs as a way to try
to allow for both a healthy sea lion population and a
''Unfortunately ideas like marine reserves have met with
strong public opposition, despite the fact that we all
support and enjoy our terrestrial national parks.''
While it was important to maintain sustainable fisheries, a
breeding colony of New Zealand sea lions would be a huge
boost to the local ecotourism industry, which boosted the
''There is no reason commercial and recreational fisheries
and ecotourism cannot all co-exist with a greater number of
More recent science indicated it would be ''extremely
unlikely'' there would be 1000 sea lions off the coast by
''In recent years the number of sea lions on Otago Peninsula
is likely to have declined or spread away from their main