First, one possibility cause of the decline in the population of sea lions is localized depletion of food resources, particularly in winter, caused by intensive commercial fisheries. Furthermore their most important food resource has started to become extinct because of climate changing. According to the U.S. Government Biological Opinion (Andy, 2008) “while other factors are also contributing to the decline in sea lion numbers, competition with fisheries in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska that target their most important food resources is a significant factor in their decline. It further concluded that continued fishing for groundfish, including pollock, Atka mackerel and Pacific cod, under existing rules is likely to jeopardise the western population of sea lions and to adversely affect their critical habitat” (para. 24). Therefore sea lions have started changing their places to find prey because they do not have enough food to eat and their population is declining.
Second, possible reason for the decline in the population of sea lions is that fishermen threaten sea lions because of salmon, which is the main food of sea lions and main support in fishermen life in the Columbia River. In other words that factor of decline is a cause of competition between sea lions, salmon and fishermen. In “Sea lions vs. salmon: Restore balance and common sense”, the author said that each year more hungry sea lions come to the hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River, especially in May, which is the season salmon pass through the dams and they feast on significant number of salmon. The salmon is protected under the Mammal Protection Act (Ritter, 2008) and it is a main resource of commercial fisheries. Because of this the sea lions are not only being killed legally under predator control permits by the British Columbia fish farming industry in 1999 to keep a balance between sea lions at dams and salmon in Columbia Rivers, but also they are being killed illegally by impatient fishermen, when they find the sea lions are eating salmon which are hooked by that fishermen. However, in “Salmon Advocates Say Kill Dams, Not Sea Lions” (Bowmer, 2006) the author said the sea lions were not real factor of decline in salmon population, and that these dams have to be responsible for salmon deaths according to the result of research that was about whether sea lions were the real reason for the extinction of salmon or not. The result of the research showed that the sea lions feast on just a small percent of salmon at the dams, and it is not a hazard to the salmon population. In fact the real reason is these dams, because the salmon population was reduced haphazardly after the installation of these dams. Nonetheless the fishermen think that sea lions are main reason for the extinction of salmon, and they have started killing them.
Sea lions are rapidly disappearing from one of the last great wildlife strongholds of the world, and no one knows why. Nevertheless, the main reason for all these problems of decline in sea lion population is human activity. For example, human activity is encouraging environmental changes in the Bering Sea ecosystem, such as warmer ocean temperatures, altered ocean currents and atmospheric conditions, and these changes affect sea lion habitats and their main food resources. Moreover an example is that sea lions are affected by hydroelectric dams in the California River. According to this example, humans are the most selfish in the world, because first they affected to change these species’ habitats by changing their environment with any kinds of every days life activities, and then they tried to blame sea lions for responsibility for all death of salmon. That is so strange why people, who kills or give permission to kill sea lions for keeping a balance between sea lions and salmon, can not realize that sea lions are not the main reason for extinction of salmon, because they have coexisted for thousands of years. They should know the salmon is endangered by dams in direct and indirect ways, because the habitat of salmon were changed by the dams, and the salmon reservoirs behind the dams attract sea lions. Moreover a consequence of dams is that the salmon have started to spawn in waters closer to sea. For this reason, more than a half percent of baby salmon die. There are three possible solutions to solve these problems and to protect both of species.
First, in order to protect them, these dams should be eliminated, with the help of the governments of U.S. and Canada. Of course, that way might cause many other problems to eliminate these dams, because they are the largest hydroelectric power producers and they are hyge constructions. Therefore, it requires government’s help, also residents of these areas should elect the right government, which promises to eliminate these dams. If those dams can be eliminated, the salmon will have their habitat restored, and salmon will come back at Columbia River. Also, it probably can reduce the salmon baby’s deaths. Another advantage of eliminating the dams is that the risk of salmon deaths would be reduced, when they pass through the dams, because these dams inspire to the sea lions to feast on the salmon. Even though that solution would take a long time and require a lot of money, that solution is a very useful way to protect sea lions from the attack of fishermen because of salmon extinction.
The second solution to protect sea lions is to reduce intensive commercial fisheries, especially salmon, which is main food of sea lions. In this case, sea lions are hungry because of localized depletion and their food resource is reduced and they will not stop gathering at the dams, even though they are endangered. Therefore the solution of killing number of sea lion is not the right decision, and it does not work to remove them from their “salmon buffet” (Ritter, 2008). In order to reduce intensive commercial fisheries, especially salmon, the fishermen should find new resources for supporting their lives. It is might be impossible to reject commercial fisheries because the various species of salmon have been a vital part of the local economy for thousands of years. However, that solution does not mean stopping commercial fisheries completely; that means reducing a percentage of fisheries. To do this, the environmatilsts and economists must work together to find what percent of decline in commercial fisheries will prevent salmon extinction, and they have to do it step by step as a long term project. If this project is done successfully, the large number of sea lions will stop gathering at one place and feasting on the great number of salmon, especially in their breeding season. In other word, sea lions will stop dying because of not only decline in food resource but also fishermen’s shoot.
The third solution to prevent the decline in sea lions is to protect sea lions under a protection act for a long time, until the decline in population of sea lions stops. Moreover, protection of that species is not only experts’ job but also everybody’s responsiblity. In order to protect them, people have to know about who really threatens sea lions and what the main reason of decline in sea lions is. Therefore, children should be educated about how to protect wildlife and species; the reason they should worry about them is that the wildlife might depend on them. If they know about sea lions pretty much, they probably will love that animal and stop to threating them. The sea lions are really as smart an animal as a dolphin and they learn something more quickly than other marine species; therefore, they entertain in the circus and the Navy. There are many facts about sea lions helped many people. “The sea lions, part of the Navy's overall security plan, were sent to the Gulf after the Navy picked up reports that terrorists may use divers to lash explosives to the bottoms of ships” says Josh Frey (Frazier, 2007, para, 25)
In conclusion, the population of sea lions is increasing dramatically in recent years, and the greatest factors of declining sea lions are reduced food resources caused by localized depletion, danger of fishermen and the main reason for that is negative human activities on the wildlife. The solutions for protection of sea lions are kind of complicated, because the problem is a kind of cycle connection among the involved parties. That means, the protected sea lions feast on the protected salmon, and for this reason the protected sea lion is endangered by fishermen, who hook the salmon to supply their living. Furthermore commercial fisheries lead to decline in sea lions because they do not have an enough food to prey on salmon and other fishes, which are main food resources of sea lions. Fortunately we have some solutions to protect them and prevent their extinction, such as eliminating the dams, which is the main factor of danger of extinction, reducing intensive commercial fisheries, and educating children about how to love or protect wildlife. However, all these solutions will take a long time to see a result and they are not easy to make. If we could solve these problems through ways as I mentioned before, everyone will be happy about the consequences of these solutions. Also, we have to start to do useful things to protect sea lions, if we do not want to see the extinction of sea lions.
Andy, F. (2008, Feb 15). Sea lions vs. salmon: Restore balance and common sense. The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://www.critfc.org/text/press/20080215.html.
Bowmer, R. (2006,March 31). Salmon Advocates Say Kill Dams, Not Sea Lions. USA TODAY. October 29, 2008, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2006-03-31-sealion
Frazier, J. (2007). Fisherman go after protected sea lions. USA TODAY. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://www.usatoday.printtis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=F
Jones, N. (2008). Kill sea lions to save salmon?. The great beyond. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://blogs.nature.com/news/
Killing come amid a battle over salmon protection on west Coast.(2008). BBC News. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24457199/
Ritter, J. (2007, April 16). Sea lions show salmon what endangered really is. USA TODAY. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/