Fisheries Infosite

Environmental Issue

 Inshore set netting - Fur seal entanglement

Fur seals sometimes get tangled in set nets and drown.
New Zealand fur seals are a protected species, and listed by the Department of Conservation as 'Not Threatened'. The risk to the fur seal population from set net fishing is not known.
Extent of the issue
There is a moderate amount of commercial and non-commercial set net fishing in nearshore areas around New Zealand. We know - through mostly anecdotal information and limited observer coverage (<1%) - that sometimes fur seals get caught in nets set for rocky reef species that break away and 'ghost fish'.
In most places, fur seal numbers around New Zealand coasts have been steadily increasing in recent years.
Current management
Set net restrictions have been brought in to address the issue of Hector's and Maui dolphin deaths. The measures include seasonal and area set-net closures around New Zealand's North and South Islands and should also address the issue of fur seal deaths in many places.
Future management
Observer coverage on commercial set net vessels has been increased in 2009. This information may give a better estimate of seal deaths and will be used when making further decisions around managing set net fishing. 
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