Mixed Feeling About Killing Sea Lions

girlfisher

Active Member
My bad on asking for the source of your data. I was hoping that you might actually have a document with references to how this "90%" mortality was determined. Was this mortality based on turbine passage, spillway passage, avian predation, GBT, etc? How was the data determined: by PIT-tags, radio-tags, acoustic tags or some other methodology? I tried to find some document in NPCC's site but frankly didn't feel like getting bogged down. I just don't believe the 90% bit.
I have sent them an e-mail asking for methods used to produce the 90% mortality determined. If you wish you can do the same at [email protected].
 

girlfisher

Active Member
Last year I went to a presentation by an Army Corp of Engineers PhD that was tasked with monitoring & studying sea lion and avian predation on the Columbia River. As he had extensively studied these animals, he too had mixed feelings as he shared that Bull Sea Lions are pretty impressive animals in their own right, but at the same time their physical prowess and stubborn nature makes it necessary to lethally remove them when they take up stations at the fish ladders. And if you've seen them in person you can just look at them and tell they're stubborn and mostly do what they want.

Some numbers from the presentation; there are approximately 4,000 to 5,000 sea lions in the Lower Columbia. About 7% of this population will migrate upstream, mostly to Bonneville and Willamette Falls. The number of Sea Lions approved for lethal removal is about 4% of the overall population. When caught, branded and relocated to Lincoln City they will make it back to Willamette Falls in about 10 days. He didn’t share how much the relocation process cost and to be honest I don't even want to know. And thru it all, the Sea Lions kept eating a lot of fish.

Pardon the pun, but the issue of lethal Sea Lion removal has been studied to death. It got on my radar back in the 80's and since then every non-lethal method has been tried and failed; failed miserably in fact. I think nearly everyone wishes there was a better way.

Besides Sea Lions, another problem covered in the presentation was the population of Caspian Terns nesting on Sand Island. This tends to fly under the radar but this Tern colony is literally the largest in the world, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately it's estimated they eat as many as 25% of the outmigrating steelhead smolts. Apparently steelhead smolts are "surface oriented" making them an easy target. Non-lethal and unfortunately non-effective control measures have been tried. Controlling the Terns is currently a lost battle as the National Audubon Society does not want them harmed, which is understandable if your favor the Audubon Society but frustrating if you're a fisher-person or fisheries manager. Here's a link for more info: https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas/east-sand-island

These are just some of the moving parts & conflicts involved in managing this issue. It's an interesting study in human nature that until the extinction of ESA listed salmon & steelhead runs was looming this action was always mentioned but never implemented.

Essentially, this is about lethal removal of sea lions stationed at the fish ladders. This year the ODFW did this at Willamette Falls and probably saved the upper Willamette tributary steelhead from extinction. The positive results were instantaneous. That said, I understand the desire to be kind to animals and that “letting nature take care of itself” feels right even when its not working. The fact remains natural world is predatory and to conserve one species you need to feed them with another.
Just want to say I was a member of a local organization that battled the Corp and good old FERC. I will point out that both of these organizations have a way of manipulating the truth. I am proud to say that our tiny group dug heavy and hard for the facts and in the end felt much like David defeating two very large Goliaths!
 

Jakob B

Washington Native and college age angler
Whoa there... I know the present situation is unsustainable and we're at a point where something needs to be done. Just pointing out (as you acknowledged) that it wasn't the sea lions that screwed up the balance of the entire ecosystem. That would be us. Yet they will pay. Humans are real shit when it comes to sharing the planet.

What do you think, Jakob? If we reduced ocean salmon quotas by 20%, would the sea lions seem such a problem? Considering that much less than 20% make it back to the rivers now (maybe less than 10%), you're gonna be looking at 2 to 3 times the salmon in every river that has them. The sea lions can't eat more than they already do. You reckon that leaves enough for us? I do.

There are far more ethical (and effective) measures we can take to return more salmon to gravel, but they all carry financial consequences for someone, so....

It's bullshit. Just sayin.
I’m not disagreeing with you there. Just saying equating the two is tough. I have said before on threads like these that this issue like many other environmental or other large issues today require a multi faceted approach. I think pinnipeds should be monitored AND ocean quotas reduced AND a numerous amount of other changes need to be made.

Forgive me if I came off combative I was just trying to rebut the point that we’re the only ones over harvesting. Some species have taken a liking to eating salmon that don’t usually and they should be monitored! Just like ocean quotas should be more closely looked at. Just like the tribal treaty fishermen should be held accountable a little bit better. Just like dams should be taken down on some systems in my opinion.

All require money but that’s just the way life goes. All things have a price. Some very high but the cost is in the eye of the beholder or stakeholder. This isn’t a question of which of these many issues that cause poor effect on salmonid populations and returns are anthropogenic. They all are! Which is why they all require and anthropogenic change. When we give them a chance. I. E. Kill off some cormorants of sealions, remove a dam, or cut quotas. We did something and nature will react accordingly.

Salmonids started being effected by humans the second First Nations people started relying on them for diet. They became increasingly effected in the 1900s as we netted the shit out of them and dammed many productive rivers. And increasingly so since then with the boom of the Pugetropolis etc. Certainly it is naive to think we can turn back the hands of time. I’d like to think we can maybe turn them back an hour or two though if we act quickly and with multiple solutions.

I guess what I’m getting at is we started it. We’ve been reluctant to do much change. Sealions culling is an opportunity to change. Just like lowering ocean quotas or taking down dams is as well, and the list goes on. Discussion to determine what is less of a limiting factor than another can be beneficial to know what steps to take first. But when we know what the top five limiting factors are, some of which I have listed and are mostly agreed upon. Getting in the weeds further about one should be tackled first is counterproductive. Why not do them all. All it is is money right. Part of the reason we end up in positions like these is because we’ve been trying to save money.

That was a winded answer at best.

Jakob
 

gt

Active Member
this thread has gone off the rails with folks playing their favorite tunes. dams have come down in this state and i think that will continue. opening up restricted culverts so anadromous fish have a chance is a work in progress. WDFW has severely limited sport angling but they turn a blind eye to enforcing the 50% quota for tribal harvest of anything and everything. so you can continue on and on with your favorite pet peeves but as Rob pointed out many, many posts ago, we are in a different situation now, not something desirable perhaps, but something that has to be addressed.

tell me where i sign up for a pinniped harvest tag and i will get in line.
 

Shad

Active Member
this thread has gone off the rails with folks playing their favorite tunes. dams have come down in this state and i think that will continue. opening up restricted culverts so anadromous fish have a chance is a work in progress. WDFW has severely limited sport angling but they turn a blind eye to enforcing the 50% quota for tribal harvest of anything and everything. so you can continue on and on with your favorite pet peeves but as Rob pointed out many, many posts ago, we are in a different situation now, not something desirable perhaps, but something that has to be addressed.

tell me where i sign up for a pinniped harvest tag and i will get in line.
What do you plan to do with that carcass? Just curious....
 

gt

Active Member
What do you plan to do with that carcass? Just curious....
not to worry, the eagles will take care of it in short order. i understand when they were shooting terns and cormorants on sand island, a cluster of eagles took note and set up shop eating all of those dead birds. opportunity knocks sometimes.
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
I don't think anyone is suggesting that killing off some sea lions is a cure all for salmon recovery, only a tool to stave off extinction. It appears to have been a great temporary success at saving upper Willamette winter steelhead earlier this year.

Just to spur discussion a little. Here are a couple ideas I like.

1. The states should hire tribal hunters in exchange for fishing rights.( most likely temporary)

2. Open up our fish ladders to tribal harvest in exchange for getting some gillnets off the river.
They can dip net in the fish ladders and sell the fish right there ultra fresh for a premium price and with the ability to turn back wild fish.
 
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bakerite

Active Member
1. The states should hire tribal hunters in exchange for fishing rights.( most likely temporary)

2. Open up our fish ladders to tribal harvest in exchange for getting some gillnets off the river.
They can dip net in the fish ladders and sell the fish right there ultra fresh for a premium price and with the ability to turn back wild fish.
[/QUOTE]

I'm sure others have brought this up, but it seems like if all the commercial fishing only happened in the rivers during the spawning run lot of problems would be fixed. Alaskan and Canadian fishermen would not be harvesting southern fish and it would be easier to protect wild stocks that are endangered.
 

surfnfish

Active Member
Just to spur discussion a little. Here are a couple ideas I like.

1. The states should hire tribal hunters in exchange for fishing rights.( most likely temporary)

2. Open up our fish ladders to tribal harvest in exchange for getting some gillnets off the river.
They can dip net in the fish ladders and sell the fish right there ultra fresh for a premium price and with the ability to turn back wild fish.

excellent suggestions, provides stewardship along with their harvesting role.
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
1. The states should hire tribal hunters in exchange for fishing rights.( most likely temporary)

2. Open up our fish ladders to tribal harvest in exchange for getting some gillnets off the river.
They can dip net in the fish ladders and sell the fish right there ultra fresh for a premium price and with the ability to turn back wild fish.

I'm sure others have brought this up, but it seems like if all the commercial fishing only happened in the rivers during the spawning run lot of problems would be fixed. Alaskan and Canadian fishermen would not be harvesting southern fish and it would be easier to protect wild stocks that are endangered.
[/QUOTE]


well i am for the complete end to all commercial salmon harvesting and raising in the Pacific ocean and all it's tributaries by all people .but I was trying to be reasonable..

if you want to eat a salmon or steelhead you should have to catch it yourself.

i might make an exception for the Bristol bay sockeye fishery
 

Salmo_g

WFF Supporter
Just to spur discussion a little. Here are a couple ideas I like.

1. The states should hire tribal hunters in exchange for fishing rights.( most likely temporary)

2. Open up our fish ladders to tribal harvest in exchange for getting some gillnets off the river.
They can dip net in the fish ladders and sell the fish right there ultra fresh for a premium price and with the ability to turn back wild fish.

Just to spur the discussion, why would tribes exchange fishing rights to be hired as hunters? Heck, if they wanted to be hired as hunters, they could do so AND keep their fishing rights. You know that's how it would work out. Dip netting in the fish ladders has merit, but those fish would fetch the same price as they do when gillnetted upstream of the ladder. And you know they wouldn't turn back the wild fish when they can just sell both the hatchery and the wild fish. After all, most of the tribes have adopted the policy - not scientific - position that hatchery and wild fish are the same.
 

gt

Active Member
Just to spur the discussion, why would tribes exchange fishing rights to be hired as hunters? Heck, if they wanted to be hired as hunters, they could do so AND keep their fishing rights. You know that's how it would work out. Dip netting in the fish ladders has merit, but those fish would fetch the same price as they do when gillnetted upstream of the ladder. And you know they wouldn't turn back the wild fish when they can just sell both the hatchery and the wild fish. After all, most of the tribes have adopted the policy - not scientific - position that hatchery and wild fish are the same.
yep, we the people have zero leverage in dealing with the tribes. they understand this would be an enormously expensive federal legal battle to change anything so they proceed however they wish.
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
Just to spur the discussion, why would tribes exchange fishing rights to be hired as hunters? Heck, if they wanted to be hired as hunters, they could do so AND keep their fishing rights. You know that's how it would work out. Dip netting in the fish ladders has merit, but those fish would fetch the same price as they do when gillnetted upstream of the ladder. And you know they wouldn't turn back the wild fish when they can just sell both the hatchery and the wild fish. After all, most of the tribes have adopted the policy - not scientific - position that hatchery and wild fish are the same.


I personally would absolutely not buy a tribal caught salmon. They sit dead in the nets for hours in 80 degree water, then sit in a cooler for days.
If they caught according to my order with me sitting their watching. I'd pay 3 times as much, and it's a fraction of the effort on the part of the fishermen.

Maybe I am too optimistic and see win win situations here
 

Big Tuna

Member
I find it a little ironic that folks who participate in a bloodsport like fly fishing that has enjoyed the introduction of invasive species (see Trout Culture) all over the world are kvetching about culling a few sea lions that have grown fat and sassy in the absence of predators and are having a deleterious effect on anadromous fish stocks that are on the verge of extinction. It's not the answer to the problem, but it's part of the solution. As @Salmo_g has said, the genie is out of the bottle and it ain't going back. We have negatively impacted, and in some cases irreparably destroyed, most, if not all ecosystems on the earth. What we are left with is trying to mitigate what we have done. Our desire to have sport fishing has done far more damage than this initiative, and this might actually have a positive impact.
 

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