California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)
Monterey Bay, California, USA
by Kevin Schafer, Seattle, Washington, USA
Jenna Ushkowitz was recently filming on a free-diving trip with Oceana at Santa Barbara Island off of Southern California.
At our dive spot, we saw cliffs known for being covered in sea lions. They were barren.
While I was in the water, a young sea lion pup came up to our boat. It was so skinny. You could see its ribs. It was truly heart breaking.
That starving pup was an undeniable example of the problems sea lions and other ocean animals face – there’s simply not enough forage fish to go around.
Excessive fishing and a combination of ocean conditions have driven down sardine and anchovy populations to such low numbers that sea lion mothers can’t find these fish. With support from the public, Oceana took action and helped win a short-term solution: closing the Pacific sardine fishery last April through next June.
But more sea lion pups will starve if we don’t find a long-term solution.
The United States fishes the same population of Pacific sardines as Mexico and Canada, yet the sardine catch limits do not accurately account for this fact. We must update this calculation to ensure we harvest a responsible share of fish and don’t contribute to international overfishing.
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