Stellar Sea Lions, the “curse” of many-a commercial and charter boat operation are now no longer protected – the ones that inhabit the Pacific from the panhandle of Alaska to southern California. NOAA has de-listed the critters which have been, and will likely continue to be, a migraine headache for those who make a living on the sea. Sea Lions are credited with gulping down large quantities of salmon and other prized catches, especially as they return upstream to spawn and when salmon youngsters are trying to escape their streams of origins and reach the open sea where they grow to maturity.
Local commercial fisherman and Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson says while the stellar sea lions have made a come-back from depleted numbers over the years, the overall effects of the de-listing by NOAA may not be clearly understood for a while. Thompson said Mother Nature will step in and probably surprise everyone. He pointed out that stellar sea lions from Anchorage to the tip of the Aleutian Islands are under heavy predation by hungry hordes of Killer Whales – the reason that those particular sea lions are still listed by NOAA as threatened. He said he doubts that the de-listing will trigger an open season on the crafty fish eaters.