That autopsy report is from 2001/2002, not 2012.
Business as usual for the neo-liberal multiparty establishment. The list of sins seems to grow longer by the day.
Thanks Anne: a slip of the fingers...
It's true that successive Labour Governments also struggled with this issue. I was writing stories about this back in 2005, and many of the central themes still persist. Pete Hodgson and Jim Anderton both expressed a wish to resolve this, but feared litigation from the industry. Of course, that could have been a convenient excuse for not acting.
But things have improved in a few regards: the industry has spent a great deal of time and money on SLEDs and best-practice training. Some of that is a requirement of the Fisheries Management Plan for SQU 6T, but fishers have at least responded.
It's also true that OBSERVED strike rates and mortality have come down (it's suspected that 100s of sea lions died in single seasons during the 1990s) to an average of around 7 - 8 animals a season. But nobody is pretending that the deaths end there. Around 20 per cent of tows are still not observed, and we cannot account accurately for sea lions that die later from injuries received in SLEDS.
As I mentioned, there are also the collateral deaths of pups ashore and those unborn. There is still a great deal of uncertainty around the effectiveness of SLEDS – something MPI and industry constantly dismiss.
The Ministry is bound by the Fisheries Act to take a precautionary approach – something that is manifestly missing when it advocates for 140 per cent fishing effort increases.
The bottom line is that either an animal is fully protected or it isn't. The sea lion population at the Auckland Islands appears to be in freefall (although the population on Campbell Island is doing OK) and could be functionally extinct within a decade. Not all of the blame can be laid at the fishing industry's door, but if we can act to take at least one pressure off it, why wouldn't we do so?
There are those out there that advocate for the fishery closure, if only temporarily, while a Threat Management Plan is being completed (due out next year).
So fishing boats are taking food from the mouths of starving sea lion babies. Hooray, we have an economy!
The sea lion population at the Auckland Islands appears to be in freefall
Isn't this the only measure that counts? People can waffle about anti-kill devices and fishery health, but what we're actually trying to acheive is a decent population of sea lions. So we should measure that and manage the fishery to get the outcome we want.
The economists like to talk about "revealed preferences". Ignore the mouth noises, look at what people actually do. In this case, accepting that the needs of the economy simetimes create externalities that need to be managed but luckily cheap mouth noises can do most of that.
I understand that most of the trawlers involved are foreign chartered vessels. Surely that should make it easy to change to jigging coz there must be hundreds of squid jigging ships available overseas for charter. No need to convert NZ boats to jiggers for the short squid season. And jigging has NO BYCATCH! Jigging for squid was used extensively around New Zealand back in the 1980's or so. Why not now? If the Government is concerned about the future of the Auckland Island sealion population, they can insist MPI makes the change to jigging next season.