A hearing by the state wildlife commissioners on Friday about whether seals and sea lions can help save salmon and thus return food to the hungry Southern Resident killer valves (SRKW).
Pinnipeds in Puget Sound, such as seals and sea lions, compete for food with endangered SRKW. They all love salmon.
Although Chinook's salmon is only about 1-2 percent of the port's seals diet, orcs eat almost entirely chinook salmon, which is also disappearing.
"It is important to set the stage for this to happen in a very complex ecosystem and it is a very complicated food network," said WDFW researcher Scott Pearson.
State wildlife commissioners learn how complicated the diet Puget Sound really is and how deadly seals and sea lions can affect diet. Seals and sea lions consume more Chinook salmon than killer whales and all fishing.
Scientists estimate that in 2016 seals will be consumed anywhere between 5.2-26.8 million young Chinook, a wide range. One seal can eat about 1.4 million young Chinooks a month, they report. The best estimate that scientists acknowledge may be incorrect is that there are about 19,000 concentrates in the Puget Sound area that compete for food.
"If you want to reduce the 25% decrease in Chinook consumption by young people using the seals, then we have to reduce this number to 19,000 seals to 14,300. If you reduce this number from this number, how much we need to remove 4,700 seals and we have to remove 530 seals annually year to keep it at this level, "Pearson said.
But the problem is that salmon has to face other challenges, such as hydropower, incubators, habitat, disease and impurities. Scientists tell the commissioners that they do not know if killing with seals and sea lions do something at all. They discussed, for example, hake, fish, which also escapes from salmon. If seahorses eat less seals and sea lion, hawk eat more salmon, create negative, involuntary consequences?
"In my opinion, even though the seals consumption is somewhat reduced or eliminated, there is no guarantee that salmon will react to adult retrieval," said WDFW researcher Joe Anderson.
Recently dozens of sea lions have been washed, shot and killed illegally. When a court proceeding takes place, the federal government should accept it and it may take a long time. Before that, Anderson and Pearson say they want more details, like how many seals and sea lions are just in Puget Sound, where are the hot spots, when they eat the biggest salmon, and if less seals and sea lions, would some other catch eat salmon?
Pinnipedi is regulated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and scientists say there are three ways to circumvent it. The State may apply for waiver and permission; they may ask the authorities to return to the state or they can use the existing clauses of the MMPA to allow the pinniped removal authority.
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