PIRSA Aquaculture Policy Group and the marine finfish industries have identified that improving zoning issues of finfish aquaculture relative to seal colonies and their foraging grounds as a key management need for this industry.
Industry groups have expressed a need to reduce and mitigate against the negative interactions between seals and finfish aquaculture farms.
Given the near threatened status of the Australian sea lion, community groups such as the Marine and Coastal Community Network have expressed concerns about the impacts that marine finfish aquaculture poses to the conservation of seals.
The South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage through the Marine Mammal - Marine Protected Areas Aquaculture Working Group, (a sub committee of the Aquaculture Advisory Group), advise on the policies to allow for appropriate aquaculture development without adversely impacting marine mammals. This research will directly feed into the policy on seal colonies and appropriate aquaculture planning, such as at what distance can fish farms or shellfish farms be located in relation to seal colonies and important foraging habitats.
The broad aims of this study were to provide information on the foraging zones of seals, and the location of breeding colonies and haulout locations in the Eyre Peninsula region of South Australia, to assist in the zoning, appropriate placement and management of future finfish aquaculture developments in South Australia. In addition, the study aimed to evaluate the nature and extent of seal/fish-farm interactions through observation and satellite tracking; assess the nature and extent of interactions between seals and finfish farms in the Port Lincoln region to provide a baseline against which future changes can be assessed; and to provide information on the foraging behaviour of Australian sea lions (ASL) in the Nuyts Archipelago where, at the commencement of the study, finfish aquaculture was proposed, but none existed. The project provides recommendations on how finfish farmers may minimise interactions between seals and their farms, information and recommendations to assist management and policy, and to guide future research.
Keywords: Australian sea lion, Neophoca cinerea, finfish aquaculture, marine planning, southern bluefin tuna, yellowtail kingfish, mulloway, aquaculture management