Sea lions ‘at risk’ in ski zone

Dominique BayensGeraldton Guardian
An Australian sea lion in its natural habitat.
Camera IconAn Australian sea lion in its natural habitat. Credit: The West Australian

A Geraldton environmental consultant is calling for potential danger to Australian sea lions to be considered as part of a State Government-led aquatic use review.

Under the review, the Department of Transport has proposed to increase the size of the currently gazetted waterski area at Town Beach, engulfing an area where seal lions often haul out.

Dr Indre Asmussen wants the review to reconsider the expansion, which covers a rocky area near the eastern breakwater.

Dr Asmussen said jet skis and ski boats drove fast around the rocks, disturbing the sea lions and putting them at risk of injury.

“The sea lions are marketed as a tourism asset for the City of Greater Geraldton so they actually have economic benefits but also from a conservation perspective, they are listed as a vulnerable species under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act,” she said.

Dr Asmussen said the Australian sea lion was listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act 1999, and also on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as the rarest sea lion in the world.

“These sea lions, they haul out in our port and forage in the region and I guess for them to reproduce, they need to have good body conditions,” she said.

“They do breed at the Abrolhos Islands and islands off Jurien Bay so I guess this might be an important foraging site and if we continue to scare them or expose them to potential vessel strikes, they won’t be able to breed in the future if they don’t have good body conditions.”

The Chapman Valley Shire has told the Department of Transport it does not support the creation of a new water ski area at Drummond Cove, as suggested in the aquatic use review.

To join in the review, visit transport.wa.gov.au/geraldtonreview.

Comments are welcome until May 26.

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