The New Zealand government has provided protection to New Zealand Sea Lions with laws that date back to 1881. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1978 provided additional measures. The squid fishery responsible for the by-catch of sea lions was moved away from the main colonies in 1982 when the government established a 12 nautical mile exclusion zone around the islands (Wilkinson et al. 2003) and later management plans set maximum levels of fishing related mortalities, which, when exceeded, led to the early withdrawal of the fishery. Sea Lion escape devices (SLEDs) have also been mandated in the fishery. Some concerns remain regarding the health of the sea lions expelled from these devices. The uninhabited Auckland Fauna Reserve forms part of the habitat of New Zealand Sea Lions (Reijnders et al 1993). Tourism is regulated on islands and at some mainland beaches on the South Island. Given the recent steady decrease in pup production at the Auckland Islands, and the uncertainty about the influence of human activities on this trend, it is unknown if the current conservation measures are sufficient to protect the species.
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