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Animals Australia18. May 2022

Thanks to Better Fishing Habits, Sea Lions Are Coming Back!

Following a decade-long program, the population of sea lions is growing in South Australia, mainly due to changes brought in fishing habits that prevent the endangered marine species from being caught in nets.

“Not only has bycatch mortality been reduced to levels that should enable sea lion populations to recover, but there has also been an almost complete transition from gillnets to longlines in the sea lion management zone and fishing catches have returned to pre-bycatch management levels,” says SA Research and Development Institute professor Simon Goldsworthy. “This kind of conservation and management outcome is extremely rare and sets an important precedent both nationally and internationally.”

The Australian Marine Conservation Society and Human Society International teamed up with governments, scientists, and the fishing industry to set up the Australian Sea Lion Management Strategy. Since gillnets exclusion zones have been established around all sea lion breeding colonies, cameras have been installed on fishing boats, and closures in parts of the fishery have been introduced ten years ago, there has been a 98% reduction in sea lion bycatch mortality. “In the context of managing marine mammal bycatch globally, it is an extraordinary outcome.”


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