Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
Tammy’s views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Eagle, his pastor, Tammy’s neighbors, Wayne Mayo, Betsy Johnson, Joe Corsiglia, President Trump, Henry Heimuller, VP Pence, Pat Robertson, Debi Corsiglia’s dog, or Claudia Eagle’s Cats. This Tammy’s Take (with the exception of this disclaimer) is not paid for or written by, or even reviewed by anyone but Tammy and she refuses to be bullied by anyone.
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PNW Fish Industry
Taxpayers and sportsmen have paid millions in the effort to save the Chinook salmon, steelhead, sturgeon fish species which use to thrive on the Columbia River. Plans developed range from subbasin plans to restore habitat, improve dam passage survival, reform hatchery programs, and reshape fisheries to improve the status of salmon. The efforts to save these fish species have been threatened by sea lions which are protected by, The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 law prohibits, with certain exceptions, killing marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and importing marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S.
The sea lions diet consists of 10% to 30% of salmon and as the sea lions move further up the Columbia River the percentage of salmon making up the sea lions diet increases. And they have depleted the salmon from 30% impact to a 55% decrease in salmon survival with in a two year period. The number of surviving salmon is not enough to maintain a thriving and healthy salmon run.
Efforts to confuse the sea lions with artificial predators near Bonneville dam, hoping to scare away the sea lions has proved to help very little because a number of California sea lions have learned to exploit an artificial situation at Bonneville Dam to disproportionately impact depressed salmon runs.
The impact of sea lions at the dam on salmon is huge; sea lions have learned to prey on spring runs of threatened and endangered adult salmon as they attempt to pass through the dam’s fish ladders. During that time, an average of over 3,745 salmon per year has been consumed in the tailrace of the dam. In 2014 California sea lions consumed 4,746 salmonids immediately below Bonneville Dam. This number skyrocketed in 2015, doubling to over 7,000 salmonids being consumed by May 15. Actual consumption numbers are estimated at 20% of the returning run.
The states of Washington and Oregon along with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission have implemented hazing activities to disperse sea lions below the dam. These practices has yield very little improvement.
Washington, Oregon the Tribes, NOAA and the Pinniped Fishery Interaction Task Force have decided that the only way to save the fish species is to act to do permanent removal of the sea lions, in other words kill them and they have devised a proposal to do so. The proposed Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act would change the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow tribal members to kill sea lions and harbor seals. I agree with this action. The Willamette River is also under the attack of sea lions and measures of killing the sea lions will take place there as well.
The ideal sustainable population” with the current population of an estimated 250-300,000 individuals, up from <75,000 individuals when the Marine Mammal Protection Act was adopted back in 1972. So getting rid of the troubling sea lions up the Columbia and Willamette Rivers would have no impact on these mammals. The sea lions have migrated past their regular range of food searching, and the sea lions which have migrated North well beyond their regular areas are males which have been pushed away from their regular areas. 50 years ago it was rare to even see a sea lion on the Columbia River.
Some people believe, Killing one protected species to save another shouldn't be considered a solution!
When Bonneville Dam was built on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington in the 1930’s, the inclusion of fish ladders was revolutionary , and a direct reaction to the tens of thousands that depended on the salmon industry. The need to keep the waterways open for the millions of salmon, steelhead, and other fish that travel to spawn every spring became even more vital as many of the fish that use the ladders were placed on the endangered species list. This problem is entirely man-made. Without the dam and the fish ladder, the salmon wouldnt be such easy targets for the sea lions. Instead of killing off sea lions to solve a human made problem, The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to concentrate on humane, non-lethal methods like trapping and relocating. Trading the lives of one protected species for another is a battle that will never have a winner.
That is the argument of people who are against killing these over populated sea lions and are wiping out the fish. Their idea that the dam and fish ladders are to blame, is stupid, with out the dam we would not have power which everyone enjoys even those against killing the sea lions, with our fish ladders we would not have any fish period, for example the lack of fish ladders on Grand Coulee dam whish wiped out the entire species of June Hogs , which were huge monster chinook salmon which came up the river in June and were magnificent fish.
There is no reason that we can not get rid of the problem seal lions, they have become over populated in their natural region and now have migrated to new areas in the search of food, in doing so they bhave nearly wiped out our precious various fish species. We must protect our salmon runs, our sturgeon and steelhead all species which have lived in our rivers for millions of years.
So if in order to protect the fish is to kill a few hundred sea lions I fully support this decision.