The initial decline was undoubtedly brought about by massive
hunting of sealions for oil and skins, but this trade has
now died out, and competition with commercial fisheries for
squid and fish is the most likely cause over the last 20 years.
Populations now appear to have levelled out at around 3,000
Whilst the Falklands population crashed, populations across
the water in Patagonia showed no such change. These populations
have been stable since 1948.
Sealions all rely on fish and squid, which are taken in large
quantities by commercial fishing fleets around the Falklands.
In terms of sustainability the Falklands fishing industry is
amongst the most well regulated in the world, nevertheless the
removal of such large amounts of fish and squid inevitably have
an impact on species which depend upon them.