The USA kills sea lions
“Hypocrite – One who acts in contradiction to their stated beliefs or feelings”
Despite the legal protections afforded to California Sea Lions under the MMPA, hundreds of these animals will be shot, hazed, branded, euthanized and sold to zoos and aquariums each year. It comes as a surprise to many that the USA practices utter hypocrisy when condemning countries such as Namibia and Canada for their barbaric seal hunts. The reality is the US is guilty of violating their own laws by committing a general savagery equally deserving of the contempt shown towards large scale commercial seal hunts.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act was signed into law by President Nixon of the United States as far back as in 1972. This important piece of legislation forbids the import, export, and sale of any marine mammal, marine mammal part or marine mammal product within the United States.
The Act (MMPA) also prohibits the “taking of animals” and defines “take” as “the act of hunting, killing, capture, and/or harassment of any marine mammal; or, the attempt at such.” The MMPA defines harassment as “any act of pursuit, torment or annoyance which has the potential to either: a. injure a marine mammal in the wild, or b. disturb a marine mammal by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.” The MMPA provides for enforcement of its prohibitions, and for the issuance of regulations to implement its legislative goals.
All marine mammals are PROTECTED under the MMPA.
Under section 120 of the MMPA, the federal government has the authority to kill sea lions that have a “significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of at-risk-salmonoid fishery stocks.” Commercial and recreational fishing operations take up to 17% of the salmon. This is considered by government to be negligible and indeed, quite acceptable. Studies show the sea lions only consume between 1-5% and therefore have no significant negative impact on salmon stocks.
As with the commercial hunts, sea lions are being unfairly blamed for a decline in fish stocks rather than having a responsible government deal with the inconvenient truth.
Since the turn of the 20th century, a number of large scale dams have been built throughout the Columbia River system. These dams are responsible for the loss of up to 75% of all salmon headed out to sea and those returning to their spawning grounds to breed.
In 2009, a scientific panel found that fish farms and hatcheries played a further role in preventing the recovery of both steelhead trout as well as salmon. The US Environmental Protection Agency also found hazardous pollutants from industrial waste to be unacceptably high within the Columbia River system and that toxic contamination posed a severe threat to fish, humans and wildlife.
The deliberate introduction of invasive aliens such as bass and walleye only serves to make matters worse. These fish (which compete with and prey upon the native salmon) were introduced to appease the idle whims of recreational fishermen while recommendations from government scientists to stop stocking non native fish have been largely ignored.
Aside from walleye (which are estimated to consume over 2 million juvenile salmon each year) birds of prey take a further several thousand tons of salmon from the Columbia Estuary.
The sea lions, which form a natural part of the Columbia River ecosystem, are shot at with rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to scare them away from the area. Those unfortunate enough to return are captured and restrained in a specially designed branding cage. Once immobilized, the animal faces further torment by having a searing hot branding iron applied to its sensitive hide.
The branding irons are heated to such a degree that they are known to catch fire as they burn their way into the animals flesh. Aside from the excruciating initial pain, the resulting blisters can take several months to heal with the onset of serious infections not being uncommon.
Once branded, the sea lion has in effect been served with a death warrant. Severe scar tissue will mark it for the rest of its days and, if it returns to eat fish the species has been feeding on for millions of years, it will either be shot or will end up suffering a life of captivity in a zoo or marine park that is incapable of providing for its natural requirements.
Sign our petition to stop the hazing of sea lions.
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