Posts Tagged Sea Lion

Mar 13 2015

Congress Proposes Relaxing Sea Lion Protections


The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, a proposed amendment to the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, could soon give tribal members and government fishery managers in the Columbia River Basin authority to kill sea lions threatening endangered salmon populations.

U.S. Reps Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced the amendment on January 27.

The legislation is intended to improve the ability of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State to manage growing sea lion populations because they are reducing steelhead and salmon stocks. The Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama tribes will also be eligible for expedited lethal take permits.

Nearly identical legislation introduced each year from 2012 to 2014 was never allowed a vote under the then-Democrat-controlled Senate.

Beutler says the voracious sea lions threaten the fishing culture and economy of the Northwest. “Salmon are part of the very fabric of the Pacific Northwest, which is why significant resources are spent making sure they survive and can continue to support recreational, cultural, and economic interests,” Beutler said.

Sea Lion’s Threaten Salmon

Sea lion predation of migrating fish has steadily increased since 2002. Before that, it was uncommon for sea lions to travel up the Columbia River. Now biologists estimate sea lions kill 20 percent of the fish traveling to their Bonneville Dam spawning grounds.

Since 1972, when the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was passed the California sea lion population has grown 5.4 percent per year. The population now tops 300,000.Over the same time period, the Steller sea lion population grew between 3 and 5 percent per year, resulting in a current population of up to 78,000 animals.

The legislation would allow lethal take permit holders to remove up to 1 percent of the annual Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level, the total number of marine mammals that may be removed from the population while allowing the stock to reach or maintain its optimal sustainable population.

At present population levels, permit holders would be allowed to take 92 California sea lions and 15 Stellar sea lions.

Calls for Market Solutions

William A. Dunn Fellow Terry Anderson of the Property and Environment Research Center opposes the legislation, saying, “Maybe the only thing more stupid is shooting barred owls which are taking over the infamous spotted owl’s territory in the Pacific Northwest.” Although Anderson agrees conservation of the fish species is important, he argues underlying incentives created by various wildlife protection laws put marine mammals and salmon at risk and require a more comprehensive, market-oriented solution.

For now, local biologists and tribal fishery managers argue killing the right number of sea lions will restore ecological balance, thus protecting endangered fish.

John J. Jackson, chairman of Conservation Force, agrees safeguarding the steelhead and other salmon populations requires culling the sea lions.

Jackson said, “If vice-versa, imagine salmon eating too many sea lions. We would support control of the salmon. Same for the sea lion.”


Nate Wilson ( is an editor and research analyst at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

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Feb 19 2015

California sea lion crisis: Warmer seas may be to blame

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Nearly 1,000 abandoned California sea lions have washed ashore this year in what rehabilitation centers say is a growing crisis for the animals.

Emaciated and dehydrated sea lions, mostly pups about 8 months old, have been admitted in record numbers to facilities up and down the California coast.

As of now, there are 550 sea lions at facilities statewide, according to NOAA Fisheries, which addressed the crisis Wednesday morning during a conference call with media.

It’s the third straight year for record numbers of sea lion strandings in the state.


Earlier this month, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory visited sea lion rookeries on the Channel Islands, where most of America’s sea lions breed.

They measured and weighed pups and found them to be considerably underweight. Their average growth rate also was alarmingly low.

“It’s the lowest growth rate we’ve ever observed,” said Sharon Melin, NOAA Wildlife biologist with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory.

The pups’ weight was similar to what was seen in 2013, the year of an “unusual mortality event” for sea lions, and during the 1998 El Niño, which was another difficult year for the mammal.

A UME is characterized by an unexpected number of strandings and significant die-off of a marine mammal population.

Although scientists are still awaiting data from research done on the islands, NOAA Fisheries says warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures along the California coast in fall 2014 may be a factor.


The warmer water could have affected the sea lions’ prey resources. Female sea lions may be having to expend more effort and time to get food, so pups are abandoned.

According to multiple California marine mammal centers, they are seeing a much larger number of sea lions in the first two months of 2015 than in 2013.

“The sea lion pups arriving at the Marine Mammal Center may look like barely more than skin and bones, but these are the lucky ones” because they receive treatment, said Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif.

Read te original story: Los Angeles Times

Apr 20 2012

NOAA Proposes Removing Eastern Steller Sea Lions from Endangered Species List

Stellar Sea Lions

Juneau, AK – NOAA is proposing to remove the eastern Steller sea lion, currently deemed “threatened,” from the list of endangered wildlife, after a status review by its biologists found the species is recovering sufficiently.

“This proposal reflects the continued recovery of the eastern population of Steller sea lions and the strong conservation partnership among NOAA Fisheries, the states, the fishing industry, and other stakeholders,” said NOAA’s Fisheries Service Alaska Regional Administrator Jim Balsiger.

NOAA Fisheries began a draft status review of the eastern population, which ranges from Alaska’s Cape Suckling to California’s Channel Islands, in June 2010, and opened a 60-day public comment period. Within a few days, NOAA received two petitions, one from the states of Washington and Oregon, and the other from the state of Alaska, asking that the eastern Steller sea lion be removed from threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.

The draft status review, which was completed in March 2012, shows the eastern Steller sea lion population has met the recovery criteria outlined in the recovery plan, which was developed by NOAA Fisheries in 1992 and revised in 2008.

There were approximately 34,000 eastern Steller sea lions in 1997, when the eastern and western stocks were found to be genetically different from each other. Estimates in 2010 put the eastern population at about 70,000.

The western stock, which ranges from Alaska as far as the Russian Pacific coast, will retain its endangered status.

Read the full news release on the NOAA’s website.