Once abundant, this fur seal was heavily exploited by commercial sealers from the 17th to the 19th centuries for its pelt, blubber, meat and oil, and by the beginning of the 20th century it was believed to be extinct (5). When the species was rediscovered in 1966, just 200 individuals survived (2), but the population has since steadily increased (8). However, despite being protected by the Chilean government, the Juan Fernandez fur seal is sometimes poached illegally for lobster bait, fur and meat (4) (5). Occasional reports also exist of the seal becoming entangled in fishing nets and plastic waste (5). There is an additional concern that the seal may have to compete with fisheries for its food, and due to its limited size, the population is vulnerable and may suffer from a lack of genetic diversity (4) (5).
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