The video of one fisherman throwing a loud explosive at a group of sea lions that surrounded his fishing nets has sparked controversy across the province.
A lengthy caption describes the context of the video, which was posted to Facebook page, Pacific Balance Pinniped Society, on Tuesday.
“This is what the herring test herring boats are dealing with at night right now,” says video uploader, Thomas Sewid.
Currently, some BC fisherman have been hired to catch herring for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct scientific tests, but the sea lions have made the task difficult.
“Theoretically, darkness brings the herring to the surface, which makes it easier to catch them,” says Sewid. But the hunting sea lions have scared the herring deep below the surface of the water, some “20 plus fathoms below the boat”, beyond the the reach fishing nets.
Moreover, if a school of herring already caught in a net becomes spooked, they may swim away from the boat, dragging the net and potentially capsizing the boat.
“Now look at the video with all those sea lions in net feasting on hard caught herring,” says Sewid. “It’s very probable that one day or night the mass of sea lions may panic a caught mass of herring to dive for the depths.”
Sewid says that a similar event claimed the life of his great uncle one decade ago.
The explosive device shown in the video is described as a ‘bear banger’ and is intended to scare animals away from a location.
The solution is short-lived, as the video shows, and sea lions return to the surface of the water in moments.
“Here is one video showing a bear banger being used to try and get the sea lion horde to move off, so the men can conduct their work,” says Sewid.
“It’s always to no avail, for in a few minutes they return. Keep in mind what you hear and see, four times as many are down diving on the massive herring school 20 plus fathoms below the boat.”
Besides harassing fishermen, the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society fears that BC’s large population of sea lions could threaten local herring, salmon, and other local fish stocks. Earlier this year, the same group called for seal hunt to be opened up on the West Coast.
While bear bangers are intended as a deterrent, some animal activists are concerned about the damage they can cause, including injuries to the face, eyes, ears, and permanent hearing loss.
Watch the video below:
Posted by Thomas Sewid on Tuesday, March 5, 2019