Sea Shepherd Launches 2013 Dam Guardian Campaign
To Protect California Sea Lions Along the Columbia River
FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. – March 15, 2013- Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is proud to announce the launch of the 2013 Dam Guardian campaign to protect California sea lions along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. This marks the second year Sea Shepherd has organized a sea lion defense campaign along the Columbia. This season Sea Shepherd has amassed plans to maintain a formidable presence at the Bonneville Dam and the Astoria trap site with a team of more than 30 international volunteers presently scheduled to participate on site.
The Sea Shepherd RV has just arrived near the Dam and will remain onsite as command central for the duration of the campaign. In addition to witnessing and documenting the cruel and unnecessary hazing, branding, and killing of federally protected California sea lions along the Columbia River, Sea Shepherd hopes to raise awareness around the real issues behind diminishing salmon populations. The destructive nature of the dam itself, overfishing, environmental degradation, non-native, introduced sport-fishing species, and land-use practices that impinge upon the salmon’s habitat are the real culprits behind declining salmon numbers. The sea lions have merely been targeted as a scapegoat.
“Where will this end? What species will we humans turn to next to blame for the destruction of the salmon population? We are already hearing rumors that sea birds and our beloved Orcas may be next on the hit list. The only way to find a long-term solution is to face the true culprits behind this issue,” said Campaign Leader Ashley Lenton. “Sea lions are not the Dam problem.”
The Dam Guardian campaign will run through May.
On March 15, 2012, NMFS granted a request from the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, authorizing state agents to kill as many as 92 federally protected California sea lions each year for 5 years – a total of 460 animals. Although sea lions do eat fish, they only consume between 0.4% and 4.2% of the 80,000 to 300,000 salmon that spawn in the Columbia River each year. The dams along the Columbia River take up to 60% of juvenile salmon and up to 17% of adult salmon. Human fishing activity takes approximately 16% of the adult salmon from the river and non-native, introduced sport-fishing species consume up to 3 million young salmon a year.
These federally protected sea lions are being targeted as a threat to the salmon population when the true problems are not being addressed. Sea Shepherd will maintain a presence along the Columbia River during the cull season until innocent animals are no longer treated as scapegoats in the battle to claim declining salmon populations in the Northwest.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S.
Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an international non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson is a world renowned, respected leader in environmental issues. Visit www.seashepherd.org for more information.