Details of skin cargoes of fur seal Arctocephalus spp. and sea lion Neophoca cinerea and Phocarctos hookeri, originating from southern Australia, New Zealand and the adjacent subantarctic islands in the lath, 19th and 20th centuries have been collated from several secondary historicsl sources. These sources quoted quantities of skins in terms of actual tallied numbers, as untallied "cargoes" or as casks, sacks or bundles. Untallied cargoes were converted into numbers by averaging tallied cargoes; and casks, sacks and bundles were arbitrarily deemed to contain 40, 20 and 5 skins respectively.
Annual and total yields of skins are presented for ten separate areas in the region: Bass Strait, King Island, Kangaroo Island. Western Australia, New Zealand, Bounty Islands, Auckland Islands, Antipodes Islands. Campbell Island and Macquarie island. At least 1 367 000 fur seal skins were harvested between 1792 and 1948149 in the whole of the Australasian region. More than 1309 000 skins - 96% of the total - were taken up to 1830. Records indicate that only about 4 100 Neophoca and 5 800 Phocarctos were obtained from their respective areas.
These figures must be regarded as minimal, as it is likely that many cargoes were obtained by English, American and French vessels and shipped directly to European or Asian markets. There was also likely to have been a considerable wastage and loss of skins as well as many going unreported and directly to overseas markets. Nevertheless, summation of these historical cargoes gives some idea of the sizes of the seal colonies that were subjected to this exploitation, the intensity of the early sealing industry and the speed of its demise. Given the likely amount of wastage, the total harvest probably exceeded 1.5 million seals. The specific identities of fur seals harvested at the various islands are not known precisely, but it is likely that only A. forsteri and A. pusillus doriferus occurred on fur seal islands around southern Australia. A. forsferi was the probable target species around New Zealand, but the identity of the original species at Macquarie lsland is still open to considerable doubt.
Sealing provided the New South Wales colony with its first export industry. It also generated significant local employment. At today's money values the industry up to 1830 would have been worth at least one hundred million dollars. Australian colonial sealing followed a very similar pattern to the industry in the South Atlantic; being contemporaneous, accounting for about the same number of fur seals, and depleting the stocks just as severely and rapidly. The recovery of Australasian fur seal populations, however, appears not to have been as dramatic as those in the South Atlantic; due, possibly, to differing quantities of available food.