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Long-nosed fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) are native to Australia and New Zealand. They are found all along the South Australian coast, where they come into frequent contact with fishers, water users and beachgoers.

Between 1800 and 1830 the species was hunted to near extinction by colonial sealers. Their numbers remained at very low levels for almost 140 years before slowly building up across their former range. The population in South Australian waters is now estimated to be around 100,000 animals.

The number of long-nosed fur seals in coastal waters fluctuates throughout the year. Numbers peak over winter months and then decline in the lead-up to the breeding season in December, as animals spend more time in outer shelf and oceanic waters up to 1000km off the coast.

Long-nosed fur seals in the Coorong

Long-nosed fur seals are inquisitive creatures and they will often explore new territory. Reports of fur seals appearing in the Coorong began in about 2007.

Fishers and the Traditional Owners of the Lower Murray, Lakes and Coorong and surrounding areas, the Ngarrindjeri, have both been impacted by the arrival of seals in the Coorong.

The State Government will invest $100,000 for research into fishing gear, methods and deterrent devices in an effort to reduce impacts of long-nosed fur seals on the local fishing industry, and temporary management arrangements are in place to provide financial relief to fishers.

A working group, chaired by DEWNR Chief Executive Sandy Pitcher, meets monthly and includes representatives from DEWNR, PIRSA and its division SARDI, the SA Museum, local government, the Southern Fishermen’s Association, SA Tourism, SA Water, the Conservation Council of SA to discuss current and future actions. 

Read the Long-nosed fur seals in the Coorong and Lower Lakes Working Group communiques:

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