The North Pacific Fur Seal Convention lapsed in 1984 after an extension was vetoed by the USA (5), but all commercial hunting has ceased at sea and only limited numbers are now taken under licence. It is believed the world population currently stands at about 1,350,000 animals, but with no current international agreement, some experts fear that commercial hunting could start again at some time in the future. There is also evidence that the El Niño event of 1997-8 affected the pup survival rate of the San Miguel Island breeding colony. A drop in the availability of fish led to 87% of young fur seals dying before they were weaned (4).
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