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Sea lions: Public comments being accepted now

The NOAA national marine fisheries service is about to decide whether to begin killing sea lions on the Columbia river. Some say the decision has already been made, and they are simply going through the motions (ala the FCC) of pretending we have a say in the matter. Perhaps. But this is the last chance to make any public comment about whether or not they should be allowed to kill sea lions on the Columbia river. Please take the moment or two that it will take, and make your voice heard. Tell them not to kill the sea lions.
This is a link to the NOAA page, where you can find contact and other information:  http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Seals-and-Sea-Lions/Sec-120-Draft-EA.cfm

You have only until February 19th to be heard by them before they make a decision. This is the last paragraph of the draft:

"NOAA will consider all substantive comments received by 5 p.m. (PST) on Feb. 19, 2008. You may submit comments by e-mail. See the Federal Register notice, below, for more information; or contact Garth Griffin, 503-231-2005."

The email address is  sea.lion.comments@noaa.gov.

Please let them know that sea lions have always been on the Columbia river, and so have salmon. It is not sea lions who are to blame for the extinction of salmon. It is dams and over-fishing, and gill nets. If they really want to save the salmon, they will need to curb fishing, and to redesign the dams to allow passage of fish from below to above the dams and back again. Let them know that we value the sea lions as a link in our increasingly fragile local ecology, and we will not accept any harm to any of them. The sea lions are our neighbors. Let them live.

Another link to the form 18.Jan.2008 07:54

Bess T

Here is another link to the public comment form. I want to cover all bases to make sure folks have a way speak out.

 http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Newsroom/Current/upload/01_17_2008.pdf

Please speak up 18.Jan.2008 19:00

Columbiana

Yesterday evening, NOAA recommended the slaughter. Please. They need to hear your voices. And if it comes down to it, the sea lions will need you to stand up for them on the banks of the river and out at the dam, and in the places where those who would kill them do business.

It makes me sad that so many people think of other living beings as no more than things. Numbers. A species. But they are living beings. Just as every human is a living being, and even if humans are overpopulated and out of balance, it would be wrong to kill any one of them to "solve" that problem, so every sea lion is a living being and deserves respect. It makes me sad to see how very far we are from even being able to communicate with most people on this level, because they see any non-human animal as so very Other from themselves that they cannot recognize a living, breathing, thinking, feeling being when they see one. Alas.

Is there going to be a Protest??? 20.Jan.2008 18:07

anonymous

Is there going to be a protest?? Please give the info on this site if there is going to be a protest, I have a few people who want to come. Thanks

This is why the salmon are going extinct 20.Jan.2008 21:09

Columbiana

As noted repeatedly on this site, it is human predation that is driving salmon to extinction, not sea lion predation. If the sea lions are catching 3% of the salmon, as the Army Corps of Engineers and the ODFW are saying, and if the humans are catching 40% to 50% of the runs, again according to the numbers coming straight from the Army Corps of Engineers and the ODFW, then what makes sense here? Killing sea lions to save 3% of the runs? Or stopping the fishing fleets from killing 40 to 50% of the salmon? Which will have the largest impact? Which makes most sense???

And PS, YES! There will be protests. Get ready, everyone.
Part of the commercial fleet, sharing the same docks with the sea lions
Part of the commercial fleet, sharing the same docks with the sea lions
Another view
Another view

Support touted in Corporate Media is a Shameless Publicity Stunt 21.Jan.2008 21:26

....

The Inter-Tribal Commission held a press conference, to much fanfare, in support of the proposal to kill sea lions. The corporate media trumpeted this for days. No one ever mentioned that this was a shameful publicity stunt, since THE INTER-TRIBAL COMMISSION WAS ON THE FREAKING TASK FORCE THAT CAME UP WITH THE PROPOSAL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

These are the people we can thank for this ridiculous proposal:

-- Daryl Boness, Marine Mammal Commission;

-- Bruce Buckmaster, Salmon for All;

-- Jody Calica, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation;

-- Robert Delong, NOAA Fisheries Service National Marine Mammal Laboratory;

-- Patricia Dornbusch, NOAA Fisheries Service Northwest Region Salmon Recovery -- Division;

-- Doug Hatch, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission;

-- Tom Loughlin, Independent Marine Mammal Scientist;

-- Debrah Marriott, Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership;

-- Barry McPherson, Oregon Chapter, American Fisheries Society;

-- Guy Norman, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife;

-- Joe Oatman, Nez Perce Tribes;

-- Dennis Richey, Oregon Anglers;

-- Carl Scheeler, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation;

-- Tony Vecchio, Oregon Zoo;

-- Paul Ward, Confederated Bands of the Yakama Nation;

-- Steve Williams, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife;

-- Bob Willis, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and

-- Sharon Young, Humane Society of the United States.

With few exceptions, the above are all connected with the fishing industry. (This includes the inter-tribal commission, since so much of their local economy hinges upon salmon fishing.) And with only one exception (Sharon Young, of the Humane Society), all voted for the proposal. It is no surprise that the inter-tribal commission supports the proposal, since they recommended it in the first place. This fact was conveniently forgotten by the corporate media.

Fighting for salmon 22.Jan.2008 14:05

concerned tribal member

As a tribal member I have a responsibility to protect salmon, the very core of my tribal culture, for the subsistence of my tribe and its future generations. It is truly unfortunate that the situation at Bonneville Dam has taken the path that it has but the battle between the ESA and MMPA continues. Do we continue to sacrifice the endangered salmon populations to a population of sea lions that is far from threatened or endangered and has reached its capacity? As a tribal member, I say no. The sea lions at Bonneville Dam are having an IMMEDIATE negative impact on the threatened and endangered salmon runs of the Columbia River Basin and no other alternative is going to address the urgency of the situation like this will. Until people are willing to address the role of the hydro system in this fight and make the sacrifices that come with dam removal there is no other altherntive that will help the salmon now.

To Concerned Tribal Member 22.Jan.2008 16:50

Columbiana

I agree with you that the dams are largely to blame for the salmon crisis. I would love to see more effort going into either removing the dams, or else creating some way for the salmon to move through the river without being caught at the dams. This is really what is needed.

However, I disagree with your assessment that the killing of sea lions would be either necessary or effective in helping the salmon to recover. As long as the dams remain, and human predation remains what it is, the salmon will not recover, with or without the sea lions. In point of fact, if we are at a place where the "survival" of a species depends, in our minds, upon removing a natural, co-evolved, and ancient predator to that species, then we need to re-think the options we are considering. Because the reason that the salmon are endangered in the first place is that we have destroyed the ecosystem in which they live to such an extent that they can no longer survive here. Removing yet another link in the fragile chain of life that moves through this ecosystem is the very last thing that is needed. The sea lions and the salmon have been living together in harmony for thousands of years. At least ten thousand years on the Columbia, if the archaeological record is to be believed.

Please see this article to understand the irony of any discussion about how sea lions must go because they are killing too many fish:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/01/370987.shtml

In reality, even the most vehement voices for the removal of the sea lions are saying that the sea lions are responsible for catching roughly 3 percent of the salmon on the river. Compare that to the huge percentage of salmon being caught by humans. If you read that article, you will see these numbers:

According to the ODFW, in the Fall of 2006 alone, the legal, officially counted catch of Chinook salmon by humans on the Columbia river was as follows:

By commercial fishers: 26,000 Chinook
By sport fishers: 13,400 Chinook
By Native fishers: 78,082 Chinook.

This is a total of 117,482 Chinook salmon, killed by humans, in only one season of only one year. This does not count all of the other species of fish, including threatened or endangered coho or steelhead. It does not include all of the fish illegally killed and not counted. It does not include fish killed in the ocean, before they could return to the river. And it does not include any of the thousands upon thousands of fish killed each year by the dams."

You will also read this:

"Or let us take the numbers most often cited by those who would propose to kill sea lions: That number is 3%. Sea lions are being blamed for killing 3% of the total number of salmon on the Columbia. Seems like a lot. (And, in fact, this number is probably over-stated, given the small number of sea lions on the Columbia and the many other types of fish in their diets. Both ODFW and NOAA concede that there are no reliable numbers regarding the true number of salmon being eaten by sea lions, and most estimates are much lower than 3%.) But let's just say that they are right, and sea lions are consuming 3% of the salmon runs. Then, let's put that into perspective for a moment. The total number of Chinook salmon counted in the Columbia river in the fall of 2006 was 422,400 fish. Of those, 117,482 were caught by humans, as noted above. That is roughly 25%, or one quarter of the entire population. Far more than the 3% being blamed on predation by sea lions."

I hasten to add that the 3% figure attributed to sea lions is for the entire year. The 25% illustrated in the numbers for the fall run of 2006 is only for one season. So double that for human predation.

If you pay attention to the numbers, it is clear that it is human predation that is the problem here, not sea lion predation. (Of course the dams are a bigger problem, but even with the dams, the salmon stand a far greater chance of recovery if we curb human predation. The sea lion predation is really not much of an issue statistically speaking, and as I said above, the sea lions are natural predators to the salmon. In addition, sea lions are not considered to have reached or exceeded sustainable levels on the Columbia by biologists. So they are not "overpopulated," as many have claimed.

Please reconsider your position. This is not a battle between the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is certainly not a battle between salmon and sea lions. It is a battle between humans and their environment. We cannot win by competing to the death with another species over the very last salmon. We need to change our own behavior, in order to save the salmon for all of us. We cannot balance this equation in the blood of sea lions, we must do it by curbing our own voracious appetites. Killing sea lions will not work in the long run, and will only cause much suffering in the short run, if we do not force govt officials to see the light.

I hear you when you say that the salmon play an integral role in the sustenance and economy of your tribe and its future generations. I can respect that. This is why I would like you to join me in seeking a real solution to the salmon crisis. Killing sea lions is not the way. It will not work, and it is cruel. If we all want to save the salmon, we must be realistic about what it is going to take... and about what would be a waste of time, resources, and lives. It is going to take curbing human predation. Killing sea lions, aside from being cruel, will just not work. Let's do something that will work, and that will not be cruel.

Mitigation with a Gun 23.Jan.2008 10:25

Cougar

Violence against the animals is the only solutions Humans can seem to embrace. How about removing the gill nets on the river, how about the pollution poisening the waterways, how about the dams that are so destructive, how about global warming, and the fact that logging and clearcuts kill the salmon. And how about decreasing the number of human sport fisherman on the river who take the biggest catch. The human animal is the biggest preditor to the salmon not the sealion. You blow the brains out of thirty sealions there will be thirty more sealions to replace the dead ones. Killing sealions will not mitigate the decreasing salmon runs. Humans are paying hired killers to shoot and kill Cougars, Barn owls, Sealions, and Civilians in Iraq. You silly humans can not solve all your problems with bulletts, yet you return to them-- like a dog to its vomit time and time again. Killing sealions is a smoke screen that will allow business as usual on the river. This killing sealion plan allows politicians to appear like they are doing something when in fact they are doing nothing to address the real issues. Killing sealions is no way to solve this problem. This plan just shows how stupid humans really are, and that there is so much we can learn from the animals if we only were compassionate enough to care, look and listen. Fisherman you can not prepare for peace while preparing for war. Grow up, or get a new line of work, because you all are not above the laws of nature and you will be judged accordingly in the end. Your greed and corruption will be the continued cause of death for the salmon not the sealions. You want to kill something look in the mirror, and say the bullet and the buck stops here....

Fighting for salmon 25.Jan.2008 15:02

Concerned Tribal Member

Columbiana

I'm afraid that we are going to have to agree to disagree on this issue. I have a couple of concerns about your response....

1) You state that the 3% sea lion mortality reported is over-stated. I would argue that the 3% is under-stated and that the impacts to salmon are higher. The 3% impact that is stated in the report is the observed mortality rate of salmon by sea lions, in the vicinity of Bonneville Dam. Sea lions can be found all along the lower Columbia, where they continue to prey on salmon. One can't possibly believe that the only sea lions consuming salmon as part of their diet is restricted to Bonneville Dam.

2) The harvest numbers that you cite in your response are from the fall fishery. The fall fishery runs (typically) from August 1 until the end of the year. Please keep in mind that the sea lions typically leave Bonneville Dam by the end of May and return to their breeding grounds in California. They are not preying on the fall runs. Although I know your point was to demonstrate the difference between sea lion and human impacts, I look at the number of individuals involved. Your comparing entire fisheries of thousands of people to the 5% (yes I argue 5%) that are taken by 50-100 individual sea lions in a single location.

While I am not thrilled about the idea of lethally removing sea lions from Bonneville Dam, I can appreciate that it is a necessary management tool that will give migrating salmon a fighting chance. I think we can all agree that when a sea lion and a salmon are in a fish ladder-that's not a fair fight. If you want to talk about dam removal, great I am all for it. The dams have given the sea lions an unfair advantage. But until people are willing to alter their behaviors and seriously consider this long-term option to restoring salmon populations I'm afraid there is no other way to address the immediacy of this issue. I really don't think the general public, or the current administration, would be willing to consider the removal of Bonneville Dam as a viable option. Salmon populations are at risk of going extinct and the current hazing/relocation efforts have not been successful.

As a tribal member my love, respect, and dedication to protecting salmon is beyond words. Every spring I honor my brother, the salmon, and the sacrifice that he makes for my survival and the survival of my people. Please know that my responsibility to my brother is not one that I take lightly.

To Concerned Tribal Member 25.Jan.2008 17:38

Columbiana

I cannot simply "agree to disagree," tribal member, when there are lives at stake. I must fight for what I believe is right. And in this case, I will fight for the lives of the sea lions whom you would allow to be slaughtered. I am saddened that so many people are unable to recognize their own culpability in the decline of the salmon population, and so willing to assert their dominance over other living beings in the struggle over resources made scarce by our own hands. I am sad that you cannot recognize that it is our own species, and not the sea lions, who have caused the salmon crisis, and it is only by changing our own behavior, and not by killing sea lions, that this crisis can be averted. How many sea lions do you think you would be willing to kill before you come to the realization, as I have, that this is not a crisis that can be solved through an equation written in the blood of another species? How many would be sacrificed to ignorance and greed, before the wringing hands begin, before the realization sets in that it was all a big waste of time, that the salmon continue to die even as every last sea lion is shot in the river?

And Tribal Member, how is it that you can pretend that, as you say, "entire (mostly commercial!) fisheries of thousands of people" -- who kill HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of fish -- are somehow above reproach, that the 40% or more of fish that they kill doesn't matter, but the 3% being blamed on sea lions does matter? Have you forgotten that the sea lions are also our brothers and sisters? That they have been coming up this river for millennia? That they, too, are part of the ecosystem in which we live? The salmon are not only sacrificing themselves for human consumption. They are the surging force of life flowing through the veins of this entire region. They have fed the sea lions, the bears, the osprey, and others, for thousands upon thousands of years. We cannot simply kill off everything else that lives of the salmon, and then call it good. If we want to save the salmon, we must change ourselves, not the ecosystem in which the salmon have always lived.

By the way, regarding the numbers, most credible biologists put the number of salmonids eaten by sea lions much lower -- as much as 100 times lower -- than the ODFW's 3% number. Look it up. Many studies cite 0.3%, not 3%. So I do not know where you are getting the 5% number that you use, but even at THAT. A species that has always lived in balance with the salmon, that has traditionally had a predator-prey relationship with them, and that has always been in this river with them, is taking a tiny proportion of fish, compared with the 25% to 40% (and often higher!) percent taken by humans. Why do you imagine that humans have so much greater right to kill salmon than sea lions? Why do you believe that the natural and co-evolved predators must die, so that we can keep on killing more and more salmon? This makes no sense. Please recognize this.

Please recognize, too, that the sea lions do not only eat salmon. They also eat invasive and competitive fish, restoring balance to the river. In catching the fish that would otherwise compete with salmon (instead of just catching salmon, like the fishermen), they are actually helping the salmon to survive by cutting down on competition over food. Tribal member, has wildlife "management" by humans *ever* worked? No. Only nature can manage wildlife. The ignorance and blunt instruments of humans tends to only screw things up. Please don't put your faith in the false solution of wildlife "management."

Contact Emails for NOAA Officials 19.Mar.2008 13:49

Rachel board411@aol.com

Hello All,
I have put together a list of some of the officials located in the office where the decision, whether or not to use lethal force to deter the sea lions, is being made. The decision is actually being made any day now so please email the officials with your concerns so they can hear the real voices of Oregonians! We can begin the protest through email and I am looking forward to a physical protest as well.

 Christopher.M.Moore@noaa.gov
 Neva.Howard@noaa.gov
 Tom.Meyer@noaa.gov
 Gordon.J.Helm@noaa.gov
 Steve.Meyers@noaa.gov
 Michael.Kelly@noaa.gov
 John.M.Ward@NOAA.gov

My sample Email:
Hello NOAA Officials,
My name is Rachel ****** and I was born, and have been raised, in beautiful West Linn Oregon. I have always felt that Oregon has a strong green community which relishes Oregon's natural scenery and rich animal life. With the possible decision to use lethal force to deter the sea lions from the Bonneville Dam, I am now embarrassed to be a part of Oregon's community.
The Sea lions are following their natural instinct to find a plentiful supply of food, and in building the fish ladder, we have created a human-made sea lion feeding ground. The fish ladder structure type was obviously a human error, in which humans should be held accountable for.
If we allow the killing of one animal for another species sake, there could be a snowball effect that deteriorates nature and all of it's inhabitants. Not only could this have a negative effect on the circle of life but to the values of our young community. I can not explain nor justify the possible government decision to my daughter because I do not want to desensitize her to the value of a every species life. As well as the fact that she would rightfully cry for the sea lions.
The excess salmon this initiative would create, would by no doubt, be killed by human hand. The sea lions are eating the salmon for survival, yet we wish to kill the sea lion, to save the salmon, so that we can kill the salmon to increase Oregon's fish market. If the decision to kill Oregon's sea lions is made, myself and many other's have decided to not purchase any fish this season until the killing ceases. We will continue to spread the word until there is a noticeable impact on Oregon's fish market.
As an engineer, I know there is a life friendly alternative plan. It is time that we realize the depleting salmon population incorporates other factors such as water pollution, fish netting and the dam itself which is estimated to kill thousands of salmon a year. Please take into account the correct culprits that need to be addressed:

"The amount of salmon that die trying to pass through the dams depends on the species of the fish and the season. On average, dams kill about 40 to 60 percent of baby salmon migrating to the ocean, with mortality rates on some rivers reaching 92 percent, according to the Federal Caucus, a group of federal agencies that enforce the Endangered Species Act in the area (TheNewStandard.com, 2007)."

I ask you to extend the budget for the combined minds of civil engineering experts to provide a compete overhaul to the dam's problem areas. If the situation is not fixed structurally, sea lions will continue to follow their instincts to the dam, and the death toll will only increase every year. If Washington and Oregon decide to be leaders in the use of lethal force, other communities and counties will follow us by taking the easy way out as well. How many animals can be killed in their natural habitat before it negatively affects every species and our planet? If you do not know the answer to the previous question, killing the sea lions would be a dire mistake.

Sincerely,
Rachel Gruber
"Will not buy fish from bloody hands"
Wireless System Design Professional
Address
West Linn Oregon
(503)***-****