Help to save Sea Lions

  • by: Silvia Soto on behalf of Operacion Mayachka
  • recipient: Javier Valencia,Biologo Marino y Coordinador Tecnico de Fundacion Chinquihue,Fundacion Chinqihue,Subsecretaria de pesca,Parlamentarios promoviendo la iniciativa:Alejandro Santana (Partido RN),Fidel Espinoza (Partido PS),

The situation on the Chilean coast is that there is a conflict between the salmon fishing industry and native marine predators. Their method of farming is to create netted areas in the coastal waters, using the ocean as their farming environment.  However, the environment comes with challenges; it is the natural home of Otaria Flavescens, the South American Sea Lion, a natural predator of salmon. They are obviously drawn to the fish farms as the enclosed fish are easy prey.  The nets that the fish farmers are using are not strong enough to keep out the sea lions.   There are at least two consequences to this; the farmers (Salmoneros) loose sufficient fish to threaten their livelihood, and the sea lions catch sufficient fish to alter their population numbers.  Let us clearly state that this is the natural home for the sea lions and it is the fish farmers that are invading that environment. The local and governmental solution to this problem is to kill the sea lions because they are predating the fish, presumably because this, in the short term, is a cheaper solution than to build the farms with strong enough barriers to keep out the sea lions.
This short sighted and arrogant solution then becomes a continuous problem of culling the sea lions and will likely have other cascading effects on the environment that we cannot easily predict.  It is another example of man using nature to his own advantage and wanting to control all the rules.  Using the ocean to create fish farms but not willing to deal with any of the issues of that environment.
Surely rather than wholesale and continuous slaughter of sea lions (and perhaps later other predators who decide to help themselves) wouldn%u2019t it make more sense to design and invest in enclosures that will keep the predators at bay and therefore keep the salmon within the confines of the farms?  The sea lion population will rapidly return to balanced numbers if their %u201Cfree lunch%u201D is eliminated and harmony will be restored.
It should also be noted that other salmon fish farming practices on the Pacific coast of North and South America have created devastating changes to the wild salmon populations due to escaping farm-raised fish.  Perhaps this is another very good long term reason to increase the quality of the nets used in coastal fish farms.

We the undersigned are contacting you about the sea lion situation in your country. We are very disappointed to know about your intentions to remove the protection from these animals, native inhabitants of your ocean and to kill them as a method of protecting the local fishing industry. 
Surely helping the Salmoneros to design and build more effective enclosures would solve the problem at the source as well as better protecting the ecosystem from the effects of escaping salmon.

It would be wonderful if we humans could learn from each others mistakes and to recognise that ultimately we have to live in balance with nature;  we are dependent upon the resources of this earth.

We ask you to consider long term solutions that both sustain the fisheries and help to maintain a balanced ecosystem. 

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