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Jun-07-2010 03:36printcomments

Environment News: Mass Slaughter of Marine Mammals Considered

Controversies over sea lion populations have erupted at different places along the Baja California Peninsula in recent years.

Sea lions on the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula
Sea lions on the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula like this, could soon be on a hit list. Courtesy: mardecortesbaja.com

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) - Arguably, it hasn’t been the easiest time for sea lions on the Pacific Coast of the United States and Mexico. In Washington state’s Puget Sound, several animals have been shot to death in recent months.

Last winter, the large sea lion population that usually dazzles tourists at San Francisco’s famed Pier 39 suddenly high-tailed it out the bay, only to gradually return in reduced numbers months later.

On the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, fishermen are proposing a mass slaughter of the creatures because of competition over fish resources.

However, a Mexican environmental official contended the current sea lion population does not justify a slaughter.

Benito Bermudez Almada, director of the Baja California Sur office of the National Commission of Protected Areas, said sea lion numbers have actually dropped in Baja California Sur from 70,000 animals in 1978 to 30,000 in 2010.

“A huge massacre does not resolve the problem because the big sea lion colonies have diminished, such as in the case of Margarita Island where there 4,000 animals and now there are 1,200,” Bermudez added.

Nonetheless, fishermen are lobbying Baja California Sur’s state legislature to take action against sea lions. State lawmaker Natividad Osuna Aguilar said a study is being prepared to examine the legal and socio-economic aspects of the sea lion situation.

Although the sea lion is a protected species in Mexico, a “harvest” could be approved if it is determined that the marine mammals are detrimental to the local fishing industry, said Marco Antonio Gonzalez Vizcarra, director of the federal Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources in Baja California Sur.

In recent years, controversies over sea lion populations have erupted at different places along the Baja California Peninsula. As in the United States, numerous illegal shootings of sea lions have been reported. An important part of the food chain, sea lions are a source of food for the great white shark, whose worldwide numbers are facing serious reductions.


Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

Sources:

  • La Jornada, June 5, 2010. Article by Raymundo Leon. San Francisco Chronicle, May 22, 2010. Article by Carolyn Jones.
  • KOMO News (Seattle), March 10, 2010. Article by Denise Whitaker and staff.
  • Guardian (UK), February 19, 2010. Article by Ian Sample.




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jimmy June 7, 2010 9:04 am (Pacific time)

Am I the only one that thinks that this is long overdue? Protect a predator of a commercial fishery and what do these "experts" think will happen? Well this "expert" can tell you that with the populations will explode. Can I have a government job as a fishery "expert" now?

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