skip to content
Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Thursday 28 June 2018

Greater sea lion protection builds social licence for WA fishers

  • ​Rules are now in place for 33 Australian sea lion Gillnet Exclusion Zones in WA
  • The zones help temperate demersal gillnet fishers get a Federal environmental tick
  • Set around sea lion breeding colonies, the zones are based on best available science

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has confirmed the establishment of a network of Gillnet Exclusion Zones, to protect Australian sea lion breeding colonies, under special orders that are needed to comply with Federal environmental requirements.

The new arrangements follow negotiations between the State Government and Federal Government to set zones based on science and address the protection of sea lions, while maintaining commercial fishing operations.

The new arrangements will see 33 new zones along the Western Australian coast that range from six to 33 kilometres in radius and cover a total of 17,300 square kilometres.

The commercial fishers from WA’s Temperate Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Fishery require the Australian sea lion Gillnet Exclusion zones to maintain Commonwealth environmental approval.

Waters within the zones will be closed to gillnet fishing by commercial demersal gillnet and demersal longline operators, but the fishers will still be able to use their nets outside these zones.

Australian sea lions are protected by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Australian sea lion Gillnet Exclusion Zones are the latest changes in WA to address concerns about this enigmatic marine mammal.

The WA zones have been established to significantly reduce the risk of sea lions interacting with demersal gillnets when the mammals are foraging around their breeding colonies. 

The new zones will come into effect from June 29, 2018.

Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

“The exclusion zones to protect Australian sea lions delivers on the McGowan Government commitment to address this long-running issue and maintain commercial fishing operations.

“We have negotiated with the Federal Government to ensure that these new zones are based on science and around known sea lion breeding colonies.

“The network of zones seek to balance Australian sea lion conservation concerns, with the need to maintain a viable commercial fishery that delivers economic and social benefits to the community.

“Our commercial gillnet fishers will have to make some adjustments, and I acknowledge the impacts this will have on some fishers. However, without these zones they would have lost their Commonwealth Environmental approval to operate.”

Last modified: 28/06/2018 11:19 AM

© All contents copyright Government of Western Australia. All rights reserved. ABN: 18 951 343 745


© This work is copyright. You may display, print or reproduce this material only in an unaltered format for your personal or non-commercial use, or for use within your organisation. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.


The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at