By Kirsten Massebeau
No marine mammal is safe when it comes to protecting the rights of commercial fisherman and anglers. Oregon and Washington are not about to give up even 1% of the salmon they harvest each year even if it means killing sea lions. Thanks to a court ruling National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is using lethal force to stop the Columbia River Sea Lions from taking salmon at the Bonneville dam where salmon struggle each year to make it through the man-made fish ladders. Any sea lion that visits the Bonneville dam more than twice will be killed or sent to marine parks such as Sea World to live their lives in captivity giving marine parks and aquariums a new source of display animals.
At the Port of Astoria panicked sea lions packed into a floated cage are branded with a hot iron one by one.
March 24, 2013 by SSCS Dam Guardian
“In 2011, sea lions consumed just over 1% of the salmon run at the same time that Oregon and Washington permitted fisheries in the Columbia River to harvest as much as 12 percent of the very same run”. (Source)
The Human Society makes some very good points as to why the salmon are not recovering. Sadly, again we find the work of human beings as reasons causing the collapse of salmon not the sea lions.
- The plan to shoot sea lions coincides with estimates that this spring’s Columbia River salmon run is likely to be the among the fourth largest since 1980 while, as of the date of lethal removal authorization, only two California sea lions had been seen at the dam, the fewest to date of any year since 2003 and the time each animal spends at the dam has been steadily declining over the past few years.
- The major causes of salmon losses are:
Dams: NMFS estimates the Federal Columbia River Power System kills 16.8 percent of adult Snake River Basin Steelhead and 59.9 percent of juveniles.
*Hatcheries: In 2009, a Congressionally mandated science panel found that current fish hatchery practices interfere with recovery and are in urgent need of reform.
*Fishing: The states annually authorize the incidental take of between 5.5 and 17 percent of the Upper Columbia spring Chinook and Upper Snake River spring/summer Chinook. Additional salmon are killed in ocean fisheries. Employment of selective gear would permit wild, ESA-listed salmon and steelhead to be released unharmed when caught in the Columbia River fisheries that target abundant hatchery fish.
*Other Predators: Bird predators consume millions of juvenile salmon in the Columbia River estuary each year. NMFS scientists also estimate that non-native walleye that are intentionally stocked by the states in the Columbia River eat up to 2 million juvenile salmon a year. (source)
Branded sea lions at the Port of Astoria by SSCS Dam Guardians March 24, 20113
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Dam Guardian’s are working in full force to document the injustices against the sea lions. SSCS Dam Guardian Ellie Buchanan recounts the cruel hazing of 30 sea lions on Palm Sunday:
Palm Sunday for some is supposed to be a peaceful holiday. We woke to the sounds of sea lion screams coming from Pier 36. We scrambled to get dressed, get our equipment, and get down to the docks. We were astounded by the sight of 30 + beautiful sea lions, in sheer terror, climbing upon each other and crying out in fear. Trying to escape their human captors. Sea Lions literally filled the trap, and the weight was causing the cage to sink.
The sea lions sitting on the docks were also upset. Little ones were swimming up to see their friends in the trap.
Matt from O.D.F.W. would bang on the bottom of the trap with a stick and the only way out of the trap was to go into the squeeze cage. Where they would be held tightly against their will, their movements restricted while seering hot irons were pressed into their flesh. (source)
An injured sea lion struggles for life after being branded. March 22, 2013
By SSCS Dam Guardians
A question many Oregonians have is how will this impact tourism? Ellie Buchanan SSCS Dam Guardian had first hand experience with this on Palm Sunday:
A woman was screaming “Don’t hurt the babies, Matt, how do you sleep at night?” We talked to tourists who heard the sea lions and this woman screaming. They flocked to the pier, and walked away with the truth about what is happening to our oceans, and to marine wildlife on The Willamette and Columbia River. I noticed they would come with smiles on their faces and left looking disturbed. With horror and tears on their faces.
With tears streaming down our face, we refused not to look away. We documented this horror for over six hours. (Source)
Sea lions at the Bonneville Dam March 22, 2013
By SSCS Dam Guardians
Visit the website Sea Shepherds Dam Guardians and find out how you can join the campaign to save the sea lions.
Please join the event on Facebook Rock The #DamTweet For Sea Lions! There you will find many ways to take action so that you too can help to stop this terrible injustice to sea lions.