Thursday, October 24, 2013

Four Dead Malibu Sea Lions May Have Been Squid Season Casualties

Squid season closed on Friday, Oct. 18, at noon. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the commercial fishery for market squid, "Based on landings information and projections, [that] the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid will be reached," a press release stated. The news was followed by confirmation from the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro that two sea lions appear to have been shot to death in Malibu waters this month. One sea lion was recovered alive at Broad Beach. It later died of multiple bullet wounds. The other marine mammal was found dead with one bullet wound. A third shooting-related sea lion death on Oct. 3 has been confirmed. A fourth animal was found shot in August.
Squid fishers are authorized to use a type of loud firecracker or paint gun to scare off sea lions, but it is illegal to kill or harm the animals in any way. However, sea lion shooting reports seem to coincide with peak squid season in the fall as sea lions, attracted to the fishing activity, compete with the boat crews for a share of the squid take. Two men on a squid fishery light boat were arrested last year and charged with deliberately harassing sea lions. All marine mammals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Individuals convicted of harming a sea lion can be fined and jailed, depending on the circumstances.
The squid fishing season runs from April through the following March of each year. Because the quota has already been met, the fishery will remain closed until March 31, 2014.
The Malibu Times has a good article on the incidents. Any one with any information about the sea lion shooting incidents is encouraged to contact:
Special Agent David L. Reilly
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Law Enforcement
501 West Ocean Blvd Suite 4300 Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 980-4056 Office
(562) 9804058 Fax
(800 ) 853-1964 Hotline 24/7

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