6 March 2014
The Deepwater Group has thrown its support behind the announcement of a Threat Management Plan (TMP) for the endangered New Zealand sea lions on the Auckland Islands.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith has announced the formation of the TMP after news of a reduced pup count on the Aucklands this past summer and confirmation that hundreds of sea lion pups were dying of the bacterial disease Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Deepwater CEO George Clement says Klebsiella is the clear and present danger for the sea lion population on the Aucklands.
“We now know that Klebsiella is killing pups at an unsustainable rate. The natural mortality of the pups has always been high. But this disease is pushing the population over the brink. The only thing we are not sure of is how fast.”
George Clement says the industry will continue to work with government to immediately address the disease issue.
“By whatever means necessary this chronic Klebsiella infection in the population must be confronted next summer with animal husbandry intervention. At the moment we are not off first base with any means to do this. If the animals were livestock then there would be an array of remedies being administered to make them healthy rather than stand aside and let them die.” George Clement says.
George Clement says how quickly plans are moved into action is critical.
“We are continuing to refine our technology to minimise accidental captures and are very close to getting to no captures. The seafood industry has invested millions of dollars on research into the causes of the decline of this population. Future generations of New Zealander will not thank us if the Auckland Island sea lions were to disappear while action on Klebsiella remained locked in the planning stages.”