Getting up close and individual with New Zealand seals is a popular activity of visitors to the coasts of New Zealand however in among the nation’s national forests, new limitations are being put in location.
For a minimum of the next 8 years, no new seal watching tourist journeys to 2 Abel Tasman National Park seal reproducing nests, the Tonga and Pinnacle seal reproducing nests, will be enabled by the nation’s preservation guard dog, the Department of Conservation (DOC).
DOC’s Nelson/Marlborough marine professional Andrew Baxter stated the moratorium was for the well being of the seals. “Mothers and pups at breeding colonies are particularly vulnerable to being disturbed by tourist activity. Disturbance can cause mothers to abandon their pups,” he stated in a declaration.
In 2003, a 10-year moratorium on new licenses for swimming with seals was stated along the Abel Tasman coast. That will now consist of no new licenses for industrial seal seeing at Tonga and Pinnacle islands. Tonga Island gets the greatest variety of sees, mostly by kayaks and water taxis, however the variety of visitors has actually likewise been increasing at Pinnacle, a more recent breeding nest.
The trouble is that the peak of New Zealand’s summertime – and tourist season – accompanies the time the fur seals utilize parts of the New Zealand shoreline to rest and type. “Unfortunately the tourist season and the breeding season of seals overlap perfectly,” Mr Baxter stated.
As well, the variety of locations checked out by travelers has actually broadened. The Department was discovering that visitors were moving far from the normal seal watching areas into locations where the seals were not so utilized to visitors, and for that reason more susceptible to being disrupted.
“The thing with seals is that they are so accessible,” states Mr Baxter “Not everybody has got a boat, not everybody can afford to go out on a whale watch trip but everybody can wander along to [rocks where seal bask] and have a clamber around.”
Mr Baxter stated the well-being of animals was the prime factor to consider in evaluating allowing of industrial activities including marine mammals. Under New Zealand legislation, elements such as industrial competitors were not pertinent and might not be taken into consideration.
The 2003 moratorium arised from a DOC evaluation of seal watching off the Abel Tasman and Kaikoura coasts, which likewise developed a new minimum range of 20 metres for individuals and vessels from seals on coast. Researchers observed that 63 percent of mom and puppy interactions at Tonga Island were disrupted by traveler activity. Seals likewise invested less time resting and more time actively swimming.
“At the conclusion of the 2003 review we stated that consideration would probably need to be given in the near future to a moratorium on new permits for commercial seal watching on the Abel Tasman coast,” statedMr Baxter “That time has now come in relation to the breeding colonies.”
The Department will continue to think about applications for seal seeing in other places along the Abel Tasman coast where seals carry out however do not reproduce.