Joint media release: Supporting protection of Australian sea lions

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
The Hon Susan Close, South Australian Minister for Climate, Environment and Water 

The Albanese Labor 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.

It will identify key breeding and feeding areas that will be mapped and available online, as well as areas where Australian sea lions regularly come ashore, so they can be better protected. 

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 like climate change and marine pollution.

South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, home to Seal Bay and one of the biggest colonies of this species, has been identified by the Federal Government as a priority place to concentrate conservation efforts in the Threatened Species Action Plan. 

The Australian 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.

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 South Australian Department for Environment and Water.

The Australian Government is drafting the new recovery plan and anticipates it will be released next year.

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“Sea lions are a majestic part of our unique national story, especially in places like Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

“Sadly, they are another iconic species under threat due to a range of pressures, including climate change and marine pollution. 

“With this funding we’re drawing on expertise from scientists to help guide protection of this species and return them to their best possible health.  

“We want to better protect our precious threatened species and leave nature better off for our kids and grandkids.” 

Quotes attributable to state Minister for Climate, Environment and Water, Susan Close:

“I’m delighted the federal government has agreed to fund this 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.

“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.”