Seals in the Marina

New Zealand Fur Seal “Haul-Out” Season

The Department of Conservation have recently advised that the number of NZ Fur Seals in our local waterways has increased over recent years.

We are approaching the winter months now, which is “haul-out” time for seals, where young and male seals find comfortable places to come out of the water around the NZ coastline.

Unfortunately, and as some of our berth holders experienced last year, some vessels in our marinas have been considered attractive resting places by these marine mammals, and some damage has been caused to various vessels in our marinas as a result of their hauling out.

Marlborough Sounds Marinas is proactively working in collaboration with the Department of Conservation on how to approach the seal haul-out season and we will provide more information on this over the next couple of months.

In the meantime, the best course of action to prevent damage to your vessel by NZ fur seals over the winter months is to seal-proof your vessel by following the advice below from the Department of Conservation. This article aims at providing some tips on how to prevent seals boarding your vessels.

Methods for discouraging NZ fur seals from jetties and vessels:

Visual Repellents:

  • Flags
  • Streamers
  • Buoys e.g. on vessel swim step/marlin board
  • Large fenders
  • Placement of an inflatable dingy on the boarding platform within your berth dimensions

Barriers & Exclusion Devices:

  • Tightly fixed and well-maintained fencing – with closely spaced posts
  • Tightly fixed and well-maintained netting – with small openings to prevent entrapment of seal
  • Swim step/marlin board protector e.g., canvas sheeting as a visual barrier, or additional railing (removable)

Plastic construction mesh/netting that can be cable tied to handrails around boarding platforms or other potential access points. You will find that hardware stores and safety equipment suppliers sell the mesh by linear meter or by the roll.

Additionally, reverse your vessel into your berth where possible as this reduces access to the swim deck area by seals.

Please do not fortify common access points on your vessel with sharp objects or any other form of barrier that may cause harm or injury to a seal.

Safety guidelines when near seals

You should:

  • stay at least 20 m away.
  • do not disturb seals by making loud noises or throwing things.
  • keep dogs and children away.
  • do not feed the seals.
  • never attempt to touch a seal.
  • Please refer to What to do if you find a seal (

All marine mammals, which includes NZ fur seals, are a protected species.  It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, injure or kill seals in New Zealand (refer Marine Mammals Protection Act).

If a seal is being harassed by people or dogs, is entangled, or is severely injured please call the DOC HOT line 0800 362 468.

If you come across any other seal species on the jetty or on a vessel, please call DOC HOT line 0800 362 468.

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