The federal government is investing $400,000 to better protect endangered Australian sea lions in South Australia.
The funding will support the new Australian Sea Lion National Recovery Plan, focusing on deploying sea lion cameras, drone, and helicopter surveys to better monitor and understand Australian Sea Lion habitat and movement.
The Australian sea lion is listed as endangered under national environment law and there are estimated to be fewer than 12,000 in existence.
It is the only sea lion species found in Australia and is endemic to South Australia and Western Australia. Sadly, it has been in decline over the past three decades due to pressures, including climate change and marine pollution.
Kangaroo Island, home to Seal Bay and one of the biggest colonies of this species, has been identified by the Australian Government as a priority place to concentrate conservation efforts in the Threatened Species Action Plan.
The federal government funding for this project is provided through National Environmental Science Program. This is part of the government’s more than $500 million to better protect threatened plants and animals and tackle invasive species.
Department for Environment and Water Strategy, Science and Corporate Services Executive Director, and Australian Sea Lion National Recovery Team Chair, Sandy Carruthers said she was grateful the federal government had agreed to fund the vital program to help protect one of Australia’s most popular marine mammals.
“The work of the Australian sea lion national recovery team, led by the Department for Environment and Water, is critical in helping to protect this endangered species," Ms Carruthers said.
“The state government is committed to taking the lead on protecting and regenerating the Australian sea lion population for future generations in partnership with the Australian Government.”
This new work follows five years of effort by the South Australian Government to monitor and further protect the species.
South Australia is celebrating the 21st year of its Australian sea lion microchipping program, which conducts regular counts of the Seal Bay colony and microchips pups at 3 to 4 months old to observe demographics and abundance trends.
Microchipping provides valuable information about colony numbers, life and reproductive history, and relationships between the animals.
The new Australian Sea Lion Recovery Plan is a joint federal and state government initiative led by the newly formed national recovery team, which is chaired by the Department for Environment and Water.
The federal government is drafting the new recovery plan and anticipates it will be released next year.