Myths about sea lions, sparked by a consultation paper out for public comment, are counterproductive to the conservation of the species, writes Niwa fisheries scientist Dr Jim Roberts.
An excerpt (read in full…)
Myth – NZ sea lions mainly eat squid
Southern arrow squid make up less than one-fifth of their diet. Furthermore, survival and breeding rates of sea lions at the Auckland Islands were poor during a period when squid were abundant. This does not suggest squid fishing is causing the fall in sea lion numbers.
But there is strong evidence of nutritional stress in sea lions at the Auckland Islands and it is possible commercial fish catches may be a factor since other key prey, including hoki and red cod, are caught.
However, the abundance of these species will be responding to changes in climate as well as fishing, making it difficult to determine the ultimate causes of nutritional stress. This task is made even harder when dietary studies are misrepresented.