REGION – Politicians and council mayors have called for the state government to act on the exploding New Zealand fur seal population in the Coorong and Lower Lakes.
Federal Member for Mayo Jamie Briggs wrote to minister Jay Weatherill asking for the state government to consider population management of seals because of the impact on commercial fishing operators.
“While I appreciate it is a difficult political decision to engage in population management, I believe the time has arrived where this must be undertaken,” Mr Briggs said.
He said the sustainability of businesses and the local environment were at risk.
This follows calls from City of Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp and Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick to implement a harvest management plan for seals.
Mr Pederick organised a Coorong seal tour on Wednesday, March 30, to give council representatives and local media a chance to see the issue first hand. The tour was hosted by fishermen and local tourism business owners.
“It has been reported to me that they are causing substantial damage to fish stocks and the local environment,” Mr Briggs said.
“The population explosion of the seals appears to be historically out of step with the natural order in and around the Lower Lakes. The issue is reaching a critical stage where many fishing businesses face bankruptcy and tourism operators are noticing a significant impact.”
Mr Briggs said it is time to engage in population management of the seals to ensure sustainability of many businesses and the local environment.
Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp said council had long been lobbying the state government for action. “The City of Victor Harbor, with the backing of the Local Government Association, has been lobbying State Government for some years regarding the overabundance of Long Nose Fur Seals and the decline of penguin colonies. To this date nothing has changed.”