Project number: 2018-036
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $335,725.00
Principal Investigator: Jason Earl
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 28 Feb 2019 - 27 Feb 2022


The cross-Government LNFSWG has been working with stakeholders since 2015 to address ongoing industry and community concerns over the economic impacts of fur seals on the LCF, including depredation of catches and damage to fishing gear. Despite recent mitigation initiatives, reports from industry suggest that the seal-fisher conflict and associated economic impacts have intensified in recent years. In an effort to reduce financial pressure on licence holders, the SA Government (PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture) has waived cost-recovered licence fees for the net sector of the fishery, as well as implemented other more flexible management arrangements, for the 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 fishing seasons. Although these measures have been welcomed by industry, it is not clear whether the current level of support for fishers is adequate or how to evaluate the costs and benefits of alternative mitigation options or management interventions.

There has also been industry and community concerns about the potential impact that seals are having on waterbirds, fish populations, and on the broader Lakes and Coorong ecosystem, with some sectors advocating for seal numbers to be managed to mitigate these perceived impacts.

There is a need for reliable, quantitative information on the nature and extent of the economic and ecological impacts of seals in Lakes and Coorong region, and the factors that attract seals to the region and drive the seasonal increase in fur seal numbers. This information will support processes to identify, prioritise and develop practicable and cost-effective long-term policy/management strategies to manage long-nosed fur seal numbers and mitigate their impacts in the Lakes and Coorong region, during and after the project.


1. Assess the economic impact of seal interactions on Lakes and Coorong commercial gillnet fishers.
2. Assess the ecological impacts of seals on the Lower Lakes and Coorong ecosystem.
3. Assess the spatial and temporal use of the Lower Lakes and Coorong region by seals to identify key haul-outs, movement corridors, foraging areas and overlap with fishing effort.
4. Identify options to manage seal numbers and evaluate their costs and benefits to mitigate their impacts.

Related research