Protect Endangered New Zealand Sea Lion

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Protect New Zealand sea lions, by restricting vehicles on Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay in The Caitlins. Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay are two beaches inhabited by New Zealand sea lions. 

New Zealand sea lions were exiled from mainland New Zealand for a minimum of 300 years, until they gradually began returning in 1993. They are classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and are a taonga species under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. 

According to Sea Lion Specialist Professor Louise Chilvers: "Endangered New Zealand sea lions are only just starting to return to mainland New Zealand after 200 years absence due to our over harvesting of them in the 19th century. There are less than 500 New Zealand sea lions around mainland New Zealand, of which less than 100 are breeding females, the bedrock of the population. Females need quiet, protected beaches to pup on each summer and cars on beaches have been responsible for distress and separation of mother and pup pairs and just last year the death of a mother and pup pair on the road. The protection of beaches by banning cars where sea lions are present should be a key objective in successfully managing the species, monitoring sites for recolonisation and hopefully leading to a new breeding colony of New Zealand sea lions on the South Island of New Zealand." 

In an 1999 study conducted by the Department of Conservation, it was found "Adverse effects reported as being associated with vehicle use in coastal ecosystems include destruction of dune vegetation, disturbance of wildlife, introduction of alien species, erosion, litter, and increased exploitation of marine animals." 

Dunedin beaches and wildlife are protected under the Reserves and Beaches Bylaw 2017. Surat Bay and Cannibal Bay are NOT currently protected.