To the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister, Maggie Barry

I want you to implement an ambitious plan to protect our endangered New Zealand sea lion/rāpoka.

National’s proposed threat management plan is too weak. It proposes that, in 2036, if the population of New Zealand sea lions is trending upwards and the population has at least one more sea lion than in 2015, then the plan is a success.

Let’s set the benchmark of success much higher and aim to have a major increase in the New Zealand sea lion population by 2036.

To protect sea lions, please increase the size of the Auckland Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary and and extend the no-fishing area.

Keeping fishing trawlers further away from New Zealand sea lions’ main breeding ground - the Auckland Islands – will help prevent sea lions being caught in fishing nets. It should help increase the rate of survival for sea lion pups.

The number of pups has been falling each year, except for a small increase in 2015. Pups need quality milk from their mothers to thrive. They get nutritional stress and can starve when female sea lions go hungry and can’t produce enough milk. This stress may also increase pups’ susceptibility to a lethal bacterial disease called Klebsielia pneumonia.

The availability of sea lions’ prey species can change due to climatic reasons. Sea lions are also competing with fishing vessels for some of the main fish species they eat, such as, hoki, jack mackerel, red cod, baracoutta, and squid.

Outside of an enlarged Auckland Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, please put Government fisheries’ observers on board all vessels fishing in the sea lions’ habitat.

When a sea lion gets captured in a net, that fishery should be closed.

We don’t allow hunters to accidently kill kakapo or great spotted kiwi. We shouldn’t allow the fishing industry to kill any of our critically endangered New Zealand sea lion /rāpoka.