Australian Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus)

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Application for Scientific P​​ermit – Available for Public Comment

Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 22 April.

Applicant: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania

Species/Taxon: Australian Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus), Long-nosed Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri)

Location:

  • Wedge Island Conservation Area, Tasmania (Conservation Area)
  • Lippies Point, Strathblane (Promontory), permanent timber production zone, managed by Forestry Tasmania

Title of research:

Haul-out behaviour shifts in seals of south-eastern Tasmania, an opportunity for machine learning.

Aim of project:

  1. Monitor haul-out behaviours of seals, following the establishment of aquaculture facilities in Storm Bay adjacent to Wedge Island, Tasmania, and within the D’Entrecasteaux Channel south of Dover, Tasmania.
  2. Assess the effectiveness of passive unmanned monitoring of seal haul-outs, through the installation of camera traps and passive acoustic recorders.
  3. Explore the application of machine learning, inclusive of AI and neural networks to effectively detect and track individuals within dataset and aid in demographic understandings.

Justification:

  • The establishment of haul-outs in these areas post fish farm development, suggests a potential link between seals who exploit the area and the presence of aquaculture. Therefore, our study will seek to investigate this interplay to determine the behavioural shifts occurring amongst seals as a potentially reaction to local industrialisation.
  • To understand the impact of anthropogenic encroachment, methods that reduce exposure of target species to investigators are key to ensuring viable results. This study will explore the soundness of seal detections determined via remote methods.

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: 

  • A. pusillus doriferus - 500
  • A. forsteri - 200

Activities undertaken and methods:

  • Installation of camera traps and passive acoustic recorders, following manual observations (Wedge Is. day and night manual observations – using infrared binoculars, Lippies Pt. only day manual observations).
  • Equipment will be camouflaged and at a safe yet functional distance, remaining in place for the completion of the study after which it will be completely removed.

Fate of animals: 

No direct contact will be made with the animals; aim of study is to investigation passive monitoring techniques.

Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):

Minimal to none; direct impact would contradict aims. Extreme care will be taken to prevent any adverse impacts to seals.

Contact

Scientific Research Permits
Natural and Cultural Heritage
Level 5, 134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Email: Scientific.Permits@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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