In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2083
, giving certain state governments and Native American tribes the right to kill up to 100 sea lions at a time.
But without a similar Senate bill, these marine mammals were relatively safe.
But their reprieve may be coming to an end. Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a similar bill which brings the sea lion slaughter even closer to reality.
Why, despite the celebrated protections of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), would our government allow state and tribal governments to kill up to 1000 sea lions a year?
Well according to some "experts," sea lions in the Columbia River basin are the principal threat to the wild salmon population in the area. Wild salmon have recently been added to the Endangered Species List. Congress, then, wants to cull the Columbia River sea lions which prey on the salmon, believing that will improve salmon stock.
In fact, the problem isn't the seal lion population, it's — you guessed it — us!
While Congress focuses on faulty science pointing the finger at this incredible marine mammal, most researchers place the blame squarely on humans. Because salmon are spread so far and wide, it's impossible to name all issues, but researchers have been able to sum up their main challenges as the "Four Hs
" — harvest, hatcheries, habitat and hydropower. None of those have anything to do with seal lions.
Humans are taking too many salmon in their annual harvest. Salmon fisheries are diluting the wild salmon gene pool. Their habitat is degrading due to logging, agricultural practices, dumping and oil spills all pose a threat to their survival and dams creating hydropower block their passage from spawning grounds to the sea. It is wrong-headed and short-sighted to focus on sea lions when we are the real problem.
Instead of killing thousands of the marine mammals Congress should pass legislation curtailing the problems caused by the four Hs. Anything else is irresponsible. Sign the petition and demand that Congress drop their push to slaughter sea lions and demand they make a concerted effort to save the salmon of the Columbia River Basin.