May 19, 2011
Sea Lion Battle: Animal Rights Groups Vs. Anglers
By Tim Romano
California sea lions are eating thousands of endangered salmon in the Columbia River system and have been for years. Deeter and I witnessed it first hand fishing for salmon, smallmouth, and sturgeon the past couple days with the fine gentlemen from G.Loomis rods.
The local fishermen are sick of the sea lions munching on their fish. It's a huge problem and only getting worse. Just last friday a sea lion played a little tug of war with an angler and his salmon, ultimately pulling him overboard.
Monday, the states of Washington and Oregon, "won authorization from a federal agency (NOAA) on Friday to kill sea lions eating endangered salmon at the Bonneville Dam, angering animal rights advocates." said this Reuters news article. Anglers here are cheering the ruling, while the Humane Society is contemplating fighting it like they did in 2008. It was a fight they ultimately won.
William Stelle, with NOAA says, "This is not an easy decision for our agency to make, but a thorough analysis shows that a small number of California sea lions preying on salmon and steelhead are having a significant effect on the ability of the fish stocks to recover". While the Humane Society thinks otherwise stating, "This is shameful that they (NOAA) are distracting attention from real problems they could be addressing", and, "This is one of the least important things they can to do address salmon recovery".
It's a sticky wicket for sure - pitting an endangered species (salmon) against one that is protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (sea lions). I'm curious if any of you had any skin in the game or know anyone who does.