Ever since they were mentioned in Lewis and Clarks’ journals in 1806, sea lions have been feeding on the fish of the Pacific Northwest. So it comes as no surprise that they are continuing to do so to this present day.
However, what does come as a surprise is that they are soon going to pay the price for it if they continue with their habitual ways.
On March 18, 2008, the federal government permitted Oregon to kill California sea lions that are preying on the endangered salmon and steelhead which are protected by the Endangered Species Act. This new authorization is unjustified, for it is clearly inhumane. Although it is true that a vast number of endangered fish fall prey to the sea lions’ palate, they are also an essential part of the ecosystem that allows those same fish to thrive. Therefore, Oregon should not be permitted to kill sea lions, for it is unjust and unnecessary.
Whether it is humans or sea lions, it is natural instinct to eat in order to stay alive. This is why California sea lions are on Oregon’s riverbanks feeding on their diet of fish. They are merely following the cycle nature had intended them to follow. Considering the fact that they have been mentioned in Lewis and Clarks’ journals before settlers have migrated to the Pacific Northwest, sea lions were here first.
It is humans who are invading their land.
Bearing in mind that these animals are defenseless creatures, is it justified to kill them for any reason whatsoever?
Although it is true that the sea lions are consuming a vast quantity of endangered fish, their absence will not benefit the fish population. Other than sea lions, the fish are prey to a number of other predators, such as squids and lampreys, both of which are also on a sea lion’s diet.
If sea lions are exterminated, there will be an excess of these predators, which will continue to cause the fish population to dwindle, causing the ecosystem to be reversed. As a result, the situation could be worse, proving the act to be illogical and unnecessary.
While many have blamed sea lions for the decline in the endangered fish population, they have failed to address other sources of the problem. Other than feasting sea lions, other factors include: poor fishery and water management, substantial bird predation, hydroelectric dams and damage to spawning areas. In truth, these factors contribute greatly to the decline in fish. However, they are also more complex to solve, shifting the blame to the easier solution: the extermination of sea lions.
While it is true that the fish they prey on are endangered, the extermination of sea lions is not an effective solution to solving this problem. Instead, officials should focus on improving the other factors mentioned above to help increase the fish population. In order to control the sea lion’s feasting, officials can relocate the sea lions to a different environment that will not affect the endangered fish species or release an excess of fish that are not endangered for the sea lions to prey on instead. With the countless solutions to solving this problem, killing should not be one of them. Therefore, the permit in taking the lives of these animals is neither justified nor necessary.
It is simply barbaric.