8/6/05Fisheries Minister Jon Ford has released a discussion paper recommending the introduction of devices to stop Australian sea lions being caught in rock lobster pots.Mr Ford said sea lion pups had learned that rock lobster pots were an easy source of food.“However, taking crayfish from a pot is not without risks and the occasional pup had been trapped and drowned,” he said.“The Australian sea lion is now listed as a threatened species and the rock lobster industry should be congratulated for acting to prevent pup deaths.”The Fisheries Department, in consultation with the rock lobster industry, has extensively tested two simple devices designed to stop sea lion pups entering rock lobster pots. Both designs are now being recommended for use by commercial fishers.“Trials show the devices are effective in protecting sea lion pups, but have little impact on catch rates of legal size lobster,” Mr Ford said.The discussion paper recommends the mandatory fitting of sea lion exclusion devices before the next rock lobster season, which opens on November 15. “It is proposed that the devices be attached to commercial and recreational rock lobster pots used in waters less than 20m deep.”The devices would only be used in the main sea lion breeding grounds between Freshwater Point, near Dongara and just south of Wedge Island.The report was drafted by the Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Committee (RLIAC) and is available from the Fisheries Department website at http://www.fish.wa.gov.auPublic comment closes on Friday July 8 and submissions should be sent to:
Commercial Fisheries Management Officer (Rock Lobster)Minister's Office - 9425 4200
Department of Fisheries
3rd Floor, 168 St George’s Terrace
Perth, Western Australia, 6000.