Local Department of Conservation staff were shocked and angered on finding the remains of a New Zealand fur seal/kekeno, that had been shot and skinned, washed up on a local beach over the weekend.
New Zealand fur seal
The seal remains had been in the water for sometime before beaching near the Port of Napier. Dave Carlton, Conservation Services Manager said it was unclear where the seal had died. Here in Hawke’s Bay they are often seen resting on our beaches or swimming nearby.
“What was obvious was the seal had been killed and this is a clear offence under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978” he said. This sort of behaviour is incomprehensible. Contrary to some thinking, seals do not impact significantly on the local fish population. They feed mainly on squid and small mid-water fish, mostly off the continental shelf. Alternatively, using the animal as target practice then skinning it is equally insidious.
“We would like to hear from anybody with information pertaining to these actions’ he said. A successful prosecution could result in up to a year in prison or a maximum fine of $100,000.
Before the arrival of humans a population of about 2 million kekeno inhabited New Zealand. They were taken as food by Māori. The onset of European sealing for meat and pelts in the 1700s and 1800s pushed them to the brink of extinction. Since their protection in 1978 numbers have increased gradually.