Fisheries Infosite

New Zealand fur seal (FUR)
Maori name
Scientific name
Arctocephalus forsteri

New Zealand fur seal are the most common seals in New Zealand waters and are found throughout New Zealand as well as in western and southern Australia. Breeding takes place from mid-November to mid-January, with individuals returning to the same area for breeding each season.

New Zealand fur seals are classified as ‘Not threatened’ by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and as ‘Lower risk’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Population estimates in New Zealand indicate at least 75,000 individuals.

New Zealand fur seals feed mainly on squid and small mid-water fish, but also take conger eels, barracuda, jack mackerel, and hoki. They can dive as deep as 238m and for as long as 11 minutes, though most dives are around 1-2 minutes in length.

New Zealand fur seals have been known to get tangled in set nets and caught in trawl nets and drown.

Known as Kekeno by Maori, they were hunted for meat, skins, and for their teeth. For early Maori, they were an important source of food, with evidence of kekeno found in middens the length of the country.

International Union for Conservation of nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red list

New Zealand Threat Classification System list

DOC threat status: Not threatened
IUCN listing: Lower Risk
Average maturity age: 4
Maximum age: 24
Adult survival average: 95.919
Litter: 1
Reproduction frequency
(per year):
Demographic data source: Females only - McKenzie et al. (2007); RHM
Population: 75000
Population source: Suisted & Neale 2004

5 items
Category Environmental impacts
Effects on other species
Fur seal accidental capture (middle-depth trawling) details
Effects on other species
Fur seals accidental capture (inshore trawling). details
Effects on other species
Fur seal entanglements in set nets details
Effects on ecosystem
Predator - prey unbalances within an ecosystem details
Effects on other species
Potting (Red rock lobster) occasional whale and dolphin entanglements details