WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton's decision to increase the kill limit on New Zealand sealion must be reviewed after revelations today that he went against the advice of Conservation Minister Chris Carter, the Green Party says.
Documents obtained by Forest and Bird show that Mr Carter warned that the sealion pup population had declined 30 percent in the past eight years and the decision to increase the kill quota from 97 to 150 did not appear to have been based on any scientific information, Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.
"Mr Carter even hinted that Mr Anderton's choice had been based on commercial considerations saying the decision appeared to have been based on ... 'an estimate of a sea lion mortality level that would provide a fuller utilisation of the squid resource this season'," Mrs Turei says.
"I was appalled when the minister made his decision in April to increase the kill limit and I am now even more appalled to find out that this went against the strong advice of the Conservation Minister and I believe this should be reviewed.
In answers to questions from Mrs Turei in the House Mr Anderton said me that up to 550 sea lions could be caught in a season without threatening the sustainability of the species. However, this is based on a model favoured by fishing industry groups, but criticised by independent scientists and conservation organisations.
"Economic considerations should not take priority over the survival of an endangered species," Mrs Turei says.
Tomorrow is World Ocean's Day but this revelation just adds to the list of marine issues that show we have little to be proud of, Mrs Turei says.
"While there have been some improvements in fishing practises when it comes to seabird bycatch, thanks to the introduction of a deterrent device in the industry, and restrictions in areas available for bottom trawling, there is still much that can be done, Mrs Turei says.
"Large areas of our coastline are subject to mining applications, much of it in the habitat of our endangered Maui's dolphin, many of our commercial fish stocks are routinely over fished, and our coastal waters are becoming enriched with urban and rural run off."
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