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Terms of reference for a report on the impact of importing Australian
native animal species/specimens
1. Provide information on the taxonomy of the species, including any subspecies that
occur naturally outside Australia.
Common name: New Zealand fur seal
Scientific Name: Arctocephalus forsteri (Lesson, 1828)
Taxonomy: Mammalia-Carnivora-Otariidae
Other common names: Antipodean Fur Seal, Australasian Fur Seal, Black Fur Seal, New
Zealand Fur Seal, South Australian Fur Seal
This species was formerly referred to Arctocephalus doriferus in Australia. Small genetic
differences, but no morphological differences, between the Australian and New Zealand
populations have been reported (Lento et al. 1994, Rice 1998).
2. Provide information on the status of the species under the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and its conservation status
under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
CITES listing: CITES II (listed 04/02/1977)
EPBC Act conservation status: Listed only as marine species under the EPBC Act, no
conservation status
IUCN listing: Least Concern (2008; Goldsworthy, S. & Gales, N. (IUCN SSC Pinniped Specialist
3. Provide information on the possible impacts that imported specimens could have on
the native population of the same species, and on other components of the Australian
There are 33 pinniped species in the world, 10 of which occur in Australian waters, this
includes mainland Australia as well as the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic territories (Rice, 1998).
The New Zealand fur seal can be found in colonies ranging from New South Wales (Irvine et
al., 1997) to Western Australia (Berry et al., 2012).
The importation of New Zealand fur seals from New Zealand to Australia will have limited to
no impact on native populations as the animals to be imported will be housed in captive
facilities and not released into the wild. In the unlikely scenario that the animals are released
into the Australian environment there impact would be minimal as this species is commonly
found in Australia waters (Abbott, 1979; Brothers & Pemberton, 1990, Shaughnessy et al.,
1994; Goldsworthy et al., 1998). In addition, they are known to naturally breed within fur seal
colonies in Australian waters (Goldsworthy & Shaughnessy, 1994; Irvine, et al. 1997,
Arnould et al., 2000). Although some genetic work showed there to be significant variation
between the Australian and New Zealand colonies of New Zealand fur seals (Lento et al.,
1997), more recent work has shown the repopulation of New Zealand fur seals into Western
and South Australia (Berry et al., 2012).
Figure: Distribution map of New Zealand fur seals in Australian waters.
4. Provide information on the origin of the live specimens that you propose to import.
The individuals that are proposed for importation will be coming from Marineland in Napier,
New Zealand. There are five individuals, one male (age 10) and four females, aged six to 10
years of age. Two animals were wild born, two were captive born and the last animal may be
wild born (although origin is unclear). All wild born animals came into captivity as rehabilitation
animals and were not deemed suitable for release.
5. Provide a summary of the proposed purpose of import.
In 2012, Marineland Napier closed down in New Zealand and since that time the Zoo and
Aquarium Association has been working with our member institutions in New Zealand to find a
new home for the individual animals within New Zealand. As no new suitable housing
arrangements could be made for the animals in New Zealand, the following Australian Zoo and
Aquarium Association member institutions have agreed to rehouse the specimens as part of
their collections: Taronga Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and Dolphin Marine Magic, Coffs Harbour. The
animals will be used for display purposes, and if suitable, for breeding purposes to contribute
to the long-term sustainability of the current captive population.
6. What conditions or restrictions, if any, could be applied to the import of the species to
reduce any potential for negative environmental impacts (e.g. desexing specimens).
The animals should be imported into Australia with the following restriction “Eligible noncommercial purpose only, excluding household pets” for housing within the zoo and aquarium
7. State/territory controls on the species.
There are currently no state or territory controls on this species. It is listed as:
NSW – Vulnerable species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW
Evironment & Heritage, NZW Scientific Committee – final determination, Gazette date:
Victoria – Vulnerable species under the Wildlife Protection Act 1995 (DSE - Advisory List of
Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria, 2013)
Tasmania – Rare species under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (DPIPWE downloaded 20/5/2013)
Western Australia – Specially protected fauna under the Wildlife Conservation (Specially
Protected Fauna) Notice 2005 (WA) (Dept of Environment & Conservation, Government
Gazette, 6 November 2012)
South Australia – Not listed
Abbott, I. (1979). The past and present distribution and status of sea lions and fur seals in
Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum. 7:375-390.
Arnould, J.P.Y., C.L. Littnan & G.M. Lento (2000). First contemporary record of New Zealand
fur seals Arctocephalus forsteri breeding in Bass Strait. Australian Mammalogy. 22:5761.
Berry, O., Spiller, L.C., Campbell, R., Hitchen, Y., Kennington, W.J. (2012) Population recovery
of the New Zealand fur seal in southern Australia: a molecular DNA analysis . Journal
of Mammalogy. 93(2): 482-490.
Brothers, N. & D. Pemberton (1990). Status of Australian and New Zealand fur seals at
Maatsuyker Island, southwestern Tasmania. Australian Wildlife Research. 17:563-569.
Goldsworthy, S.D. & Shaughnessy, P.D. (1994). Breeding biology and haul-out pattern of the
New Zealand fur seal, Arctocephalus forsteri, at Cape Gantheaume, South Australia.
Wildlife Research. 21:365-376.
Goldsworthy, S.D., L. Wynen, S. Robinson & P.D. Shaughnessy (1998). The population status
and hybridisation of three sympatric fur seal species (Arctocephalus spp.) at Macquarie
Island. New Zealand Natural Sciences. 23 Suppl:68.
Irvine, A., M.M. Bryden, P.J. Corkeron & R.M. Warneke (1997). A census of fur seals on
Montague Island, New South Wales. In: Marine mammal research in the Southern
Hemisphere. Page(s) 56-62. Chipping Norton, Sydney, Surrey Beatty & Sons.
Lento, G.M., M. Haddon, G.K. Chambers & C.S. Baker (1997). Genetic variation of Southern
Hemisphere fur seals (Arctocephalus spp.): investigation of population structure and species
identity. Journal of Heredity. 202-208.
Lento, G.M., R.H. Mattlin, G.K. Chambers & C.S. Baker (1994). Geographic distribution of
mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA haplotypes in New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus
forsteri). Canadian Journal of Zoology. 72:293-299.
Rice, D. W. 1998. Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution. Society for
Marine Mammalogy.
Shaughnessy, P.D., N.J. Gales, T.E. Dennis & S.D. Goldsworthy (1994). Distribution and
abundance of New Zealand fur seals, Arctocephalus forsteri, in South Australia and
Western Australia. Wildlife Research. 21:667-695.