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Sea Lions and the Tribal Fishery

In the past few years, sea lions in the lower Columbia have expanded their range from the area below Bonneville Dam into the Zone 6 fishing area. Fishers have observed sea lions preying on salmon in the Bonneville pool from Cascade Locks to Stanley Rock.

Under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal for anyone to injure or kill a sea lion.  Someone caught injuring or killing a sea lion can be charged with a felony and the penalties are severe: fines of up to $100,000 and up to one year’s imprisonment. However, fishers can do something if sea lions are spotted around their fishing gear or interfering with tribal fisheries. Under these circumstances, fishers may attempt to chase away sea lions with slingshots, noisemakers (such as fireworks), rocks, or other means that don’t harm the animal.

CRITFC is working with federal and state agencies to address this growing problem. Fishers can help in this effort by letting CRITFC know if they’ve seen sea lion activity in Zone 6.

If you see a sea lion while out on the river, take note of the date, time, location, what the sea lion is doing, and any distinguishing marks or brands. If possible, take photos. All of this information is important for managers and will be useful in the ongoing efforts to remove sea lions from this far up the Columbia River.

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