Island Nation Burns Boats to Deter Illegal Fishing

The president of Palau decries those who are “raping our marine environment.”

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Petition to cancel a show that glorifies killing sharks

NBC @NBCSN : Cancel #SharkHunters #sharks

Andrew Mills
Carmel, Indiana

The NBC Sports show Shark Hunters glorifies and promotes the killing of sharks, amazing animals already under pressure from overfishing, finning and environmental pollution. And all three of the species hunted on Shark Hunters are listed as “Vulnerable” by The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

The show features three tournaments that give financial prizes for bringing in dead sharks from 3 species: mako, thresher and porbeagle. NBC should not be glamorizing the killing of vulnerable sharks under the pretense of “sport” or “sustainable fishing”.

Programs like this not only glamorize shark hunting and killing but also make the whole action “OK”. Sharks play an important role in our oceans and if we continue to hunt them, our ocean’ss health will continue to decline. petitions have successfully convinced other channels, like National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, to cancel other violent hunting shows. I’m sure with enough signatures, we can get NBC to listen.

Please join me in asking NBC and it partners to cancel Shark Hunters!

Fisherman charged for underwater assault on scuba diver

Jul 31, 2014

 KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) –

Charges have now been filed in the scuba scuffle caught on tape in the waters off Kona.

Hawaii County Prosecutors have charged fisherman Jay Lovell with terroristic threatening in the second degree. He is accused of ripping the regulator out of Rene Umberger’s mouth eliminating her ability to breathe.

Lovell was collecting reef fish last May for the aquarium trade. Umberger is an environmentalist against the practice and says the incident isn’t stopping her from documenting aquarium fishermen.

“Violence is never appropriate but also people who are out there trying to expose and document the destructive practices on the reefs aren’t going to be intimidated by this kind of activity. Stooping to violence only hurts the cause it doesn’t help their cause,” said Rene Umberger, Reef Consultant and Diver.

The incident stirred debate around the country. Umberger says it helped people learn that aquarium fish do not always come from farms and has bolstered support against the trade.

Meanwhile Jay Lovell’s brother says he will fight the charges.

“Jay is actually looking forward to the court so all the facts of the case can actually come out. The fact that these people are targeting the industry, they’ve been threatening for over a year,” said Jim Lovell, Jay’s brother, who is also a reef fisherman. “They provoked us, they caused it, it’s on their table. It’s on their agenda and this is what they want to do.”

Jay Lovell’s court date on the misdemeanor charge is September 2nd.


Poachers and Pedophiles are Like Apples and Oranges

Comparing poachers to pedophiles may seem like comparing apples and oranges; but like the two fruits, there are more similarities than differences. Both apples and oranges are round, grow on trees, have a skin, contain seeds, are about the same size, etc. By the same token, the poacher and the pedophile both engage in socially unacceptable or illegal behavior for self-serving purposes, without regard for their victims. 

Likewise, the catch and release fisherman can be compared to the serial rapist: both put their pleasures over the suffering of their targets. The more their prey struggles, the more exciting the event for the perpetrator. Only when the victim has been completely conquered and has lost all will to fight are they set free, the vanquisher having no more use for them. 

And the analogy between a trophy hunter and a serial killer has been well established: both are single-minded in their quest for the kill, placing their own perverse desires above the self-interests—indeed, the very lives—of their victims. Both perpetrators like to take souvenirs from their kills, and neither one cares what the rest of the world thinks of their actions.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Oregon Officials Execute Fifteen Sea Lions at the Bonneville Dam

May 15, 2014

Dozens More Could be Killed in 2014

[Just a few days ago, the sport fishing season was extended for an entire month.]

Commentary By Sandy McElhaney, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The once “mighty” Columbia River is now a toxic chemical soupThe once “mighty” Columbia River is now a toxic chemical soup
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Sandy McElhaney
April 2014 was a record-setting month at the Bonneville Dam. On April 30th, 17,972 salmon passed through the Dam’s fish ladders. This was the third-highest single-day fish count at the Dam since 2002. With current projections of a salmon run size of 185,000, state officials are now adding days to the sport fishery season. There is, however, a catch. If you want to sport fish for salmon on the Columbia River, you must be human. If you are a California sea lion caught fishing near the Bonneville Dam, you will be killed.

April 2014 also has the dishonorable distinction of being the deadliest month on record for California sea lions along the Columbia River. On three consecutive Tuesdays, state workers mercilessly killed twelve sea lions because they had the audacity to eat salmon near the Bonneville Dam. The killing spree began on Tuesday, April 15. On that date, six sea lions were executed. One week later, on April 22, state workers lethally injected three more sea lions. On April 29, three more lives were extinguished. Sadly, the month of May began just as ominously as April ended, with another three sea lions killed on the first day of the month, bringing the death toll for the year up to 15 — so far. Authorization from the federal government to the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, allows these states to put to death as many as 92 sea lions annually through 2016, simply for eating salmon near the Bonneville Dam.

The kill notices are posted on the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) website. The first notice of 2014 read simply, “Six California sea lions, on the list for removal, were trapped and euthanized at Bonneville Dam today.” That was it. Just 17 dispassionate words were used to sum up the tragic and senseless end to the lives of six individuals who were once a vital part of the ecosystem of the Columbia River. A mandated report from the state of Oregon to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS is the federal entity that authorized the killings in 2012) further stated that “various biological samples were collected for examination and the remaining materials were disposed of in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.” If the sea lion executioners are still following the same practices used when they killed their first victim (branded by Oregon as C265) in 2009, then the skeletons of these poor animals will be articulated and used for research and their flesh sent off to Darling International Rendering Plant in Tacoma, Washington, where they could eventually become fertilizer.

Five of the sea lions killed on April 15 were among those “championed” by Sea Shepherd supporters in 2013 so they could be remembered by name as unique individuals, instead of being known only by the hideous brands on their backs. Their names and their champions are as follows:

Number Champion Name
C027 Frances Holtman Oceanus
C028 Graziella Garri Proteus
C035 Stephan Oelgardt Thery
U254 Brian Lochlaer Barack Obama
U262 Elke Simmons Ahimsa

Photo: Sea Shepherd / Be Bosworth-Cooper
Also killed was U84, who died nameless, but whose image was forever captured on film by Dam Guardian Be Bosworth-Cooper at the Port of Astoria. Several of the now slain animals were branded at the Port in 2013. This charming waterfront town was made famous by the 1985 movie, “The Goonies,” but today it is best known for its ongoing cruelty to sea lions. Tourists and other visitors to the Port are often alarmed to see workers from ODFW “haze” resting sea lions with nowhere to go off of the “goondocks”. Periodically, sea lions are trapped in cages and forcibly branded with hot irons. Sea Shepherd’s Dam Guardians documented this barbaric practice on multiple occasions in 2012 and 2013. Our footage shows state employee Matthew Tennis standing on, kicking and setting sea lions on fire. These findings were shared with NMFS and Sea Shepherd was informed in writing by the agency that Tennis would henceforth be supervised when capturing and “marking” (branding) sea lions.

An update posted to the ODFW website dated Tuesday April 22 reported, “Seven California sea lions were trapped. Three were on the list for removal and were euthanized. Four were branded and released.” The three sea lions killed were those branded with the numbers C020 (“Dewey,” championed by Allison Cabellon), C029 (“Rocky,” championed by Benjamin Bell), and C930 (“Cesare,” championed by Selena Rhodes Scofield). Three more sea lions were reported to have been euthanized on Tuesday, April 29: C033, U267 and U312. On May 1, the state killed sea lions C031, U264 and B409.

Conveniently, the six sea lions killed on April 29 and May 1 were added to the official NOAA-authorized “hit list” on April 28, 2014, along with five others who are now literally marked for death. Sea lion U312 was killed because he was “observed at the dam on 7 days in 2014 with 2 documented salmonids consumed.” News of his death comes as an especially harsh emotional blow to Sea Shepherd’s Dam Guardians, who witnessed and documented his cruel branding by Oregon state workers in Astoria on March 24, 2013.

The ODFW website talks about California sea lion “management” and “restoring the balance between predators and salmon”. The most recent report from the Army Corps of Engineers claims that California sea lions have consumed 222 salmon at the Bonneville Dam since January; meanwhile, The Seattle Times reported that recreational anglers had landed and kept 9,358 Chinook from March 1-April 14. The state’s concept of “management” is, at best, draconian; at worst it is a display of total ignorance of the real problems in the Columbia River, and the efforts by real conservationists who care deeply about preserving the river, the salmon and the sea lions.

With our history of defending, conserving and protecting marine wildlife and habitats spanning 37 years, Sea Shepherd knows that the real predators are not the sea lions. The real predators are the people who have desecrated one of our nation’s great and beautiful rivers by flushing it with 92 contaminants which have been found in Columbia River fish, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, furans, arsenic, dieldrin, mercury, and DDE – a breakdown product of DDT. The Oregon Environmental Council has classified the Columbia River as being on “Red Alert,” meaning it has serious water quality problems, including toxins that are dangerous to both human and aquatic health. A 2012 study by the Columbia Riverkeepers found PCB concentrations in fish to be 27,000% above levels considered by the EPA to be safe for unrestricted human consumption. So while ODFW is wasting your taxpayer dollars to brand, haze and kill sea lions, the salmon are still swimming in a cesspool of cancer-causing poisons.

As a cancer survivor, I would encourage anyone I care about to avoid consuming toxic fish from the Columbia, and as a Sea Shepherd Dam Guardian I encourage everyone to call upon the governors of Oregon and Washington to immediately redirect their efforts away from killing sea lions and toward restoring the health of the water – before it’s too late.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber
State Capitol Building
900 Court Street Salem, OR  97301
phone: (503) 378-4582 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (503) 378-4582 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting
fax:  (503) 378-6827
Internet: Request Assistance
Facebook: John Kitzhaber
twitter: @govkitz

Washington Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA  98504-0002
phone: (360) 902-4111 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (360) 902-4111 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting
fax:  360-753-4110
Internet: Contact Gov. Inslee
Facebook: Governer Inslee
twitter: @govInslee

Our friends at the Humane Society of the United States, who have long championed the Columbia River sea lions in court, have letters for you to send to the governors at this link: Humane Society – Six Sea Lions Killed at Bonneville Dam

Our friends at the Sea Lion Defense Brigade are leading the ground campaign along the Columbia this season. To join them on the ground, please contact: The Sea Lion Defense Brigade is asking concerned citizens to contact NOAA and to urge the agency to cancel the states’ authorization to kill sea lions. Up to 77 more sea lions could be killed in 2014. Please contact NOAA using the contact information below and ask them to grant clemency to these marine mammals who simply eat salmon to survive:

Donna Wieting
Director, Office of Protected Resources
Phone 301 713-2332 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 301 713-2332 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax 301 427-2520
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring MD 20910

500 Sport Fishermen At Bonneville Dam, Only 38 Sea Lions

From Sea Lion Defense Brigade:
Bonneville Dam – The Army Corps of Engineers reports they have viewed 38 California Sea Lions in the area. Today there are an estimated 500 fishermen on the surrounding banks.

It is obvious which species is overfishing. Yet, scapegoating continues and fishermen are actively hazing Sea Lions by throwing large rocks at their heads! While documenting this cruelty, 2 SLDB female observers were threatened with bodily harm.

There is no government agency checking fishing licenses or regulating catch limits today. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can employee 6 workers to brand and KILL Sea Lions with tax payers money but can’t check fishing limits?!

Humans have many food options, Sea Lions do not!

Until the states of Washington and Oregon take responsibility for the real causes of the salmon decline and stop politically scapegoating Sea Lions, BOYCOTT COLUMBIA RIVER SALMON! See More

Photo: Bonneville Dam - The Army Corps of Engineers reports they have viewed 38 California Sea Lions in the area. Today there are an estimated 500 fishermen on the surrounding banks.

It is obvious which species is overfishing. Yet, scapegoating continues and fishermen are actively hazing Sea Lions by throwing large rocks at their heads! While documenting this cruelty, 2 SLDB female observers were threatened with bodily harm.

There is no government agency checking fishing licenses or regulating catch limits today. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can employee 6 workers to brand and KILL Sea Lions with tax payers money but can't check fishing limits?! 

Humans have many food options, Sea Lions do not! 

Until the states of Washington and Oregon take responsibility for the real causes of the salmon decline and stop politically scapegoating Sea Lions, BOYCOTT COLUMBIA RIVER SALMON!

Anti-hunters Outnumber Hunters by Three to One


It’s like the 1% vs. the 99% ratio. This graph came from an opinion piece entitled, “Who Owns the Wildlife?” which starts out:

More and more we as a society are facing problems with how wildlife of all types are managed in the United States. We see increasing conflicts and polarization between hunting and anti-hunting groups. On the one side, invoking the pioneer tradition of our ancestors, hunting groups contend that the right to hunt is undeniable and is essential to the sound management of our wildlife resources. On the other hand, anti-hunting groups contend that the need to kill wildlife animals is no longer justified and hunting represents a next to barbaric act against living, feeling animals.

Long line of hunters on a mountain trail.

Long line of hunters walk a mountain trail. Hunters contend that they are the only ones who should have a say in how wildlife are managed.
[I just want to interject here that as a wildlife photographer/watcher, the parking permit I purchase (the same one that comes with a hunting or fishing license) allegedly goes toward enhancing habitat. I recently saw the results of my contribution when I pulled down what used to be a quiet road which ends at a river and found that the “game” department had built a huge paved parking lot with 20 lined, blacktop spaces for trucks and boat trailers. They also put in a boat launch with a brand new dock and installed a shiny new 2-seater pit toilet–all for the sake of duck hunters and sport fishermen. Meanwhile, they did nothing for ducks or wildlife habitat.]


On one side, hunters contend that because they pay the bills for the management of wildlife resources through their licenses and a federal excise tax on their hunting equipment, they are the only ones who should have a say in how wildlife are managed. On the other side, anti-hunters argue that moral objections to the slaying of innocent animals overrides any priority as to who has a say in these matters. 

And the arguments go on and on….

Cormorant hunt in South Carolina Must Be Stopped

[This cormorant cull is just the kind of thing that the infamous Time Magazine piece on the resurgence of hunting was meant to prepare us for. As with so many articles from the mainstream media, this one saves the real story for the end (where they know many readers won’t see it).

Here, then, are the last lines first:  …The cormorant population went into serious decline with the use of the now-banned DDT. The increase of birds on the lakes means the population is re-establishing itself.

“We should be celebrating that, it seems to me,” he said. The removal “is a sad thing.”

Cormorant hunt in Marion-Moultrie lakes rouses controversy
by Bo Petersen

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cormorants aren’t a favorite bird for very many people. They are snaky necked, ravenous fish eaters that can kill a tree with their acidic feces if they roost there thickly enough.

Cormorant facts

The double-crested cormorant

One of 38 species worldwide, one of 6 in the U.S.

Found in waterways from Alaska to Florida.

Long-lived waterbird, nests in colonies that can be as large as a few thousand.

An estimated 2 million in North America. Population increased rapidly 1970s-1990, slowed in the 1990s.

States permitted to conduct cormorant depredation removals include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And this time of year they descend on the Marion-Moultrie lakes by the “thousands and thousands and thousands,” according to one fishing guide, ready to feast on the shad and herring runs that provide food for the lakes’ trophy game fish.

That’s why anglers and state legislators have been pushing for a cormorant removal hunt scheduled to start Feb. 2 on the lakes. Avian conservationists oppose it. As a migratory bird, the cormorant, craw and all, is a protected species, meaning federal regulations restrict harassment or taking of the birds.

“These are native birds. They have always been here. Someone now perceives that to be a problem,” said Norman Brunswig, Audubon South Carolina state director. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has no credible scientific evidence that the onslaught of winter migrating birds does any substantive damage to the fishery, he said. “To kill a bird without a really, really good reason to do it is kind of barbaric.”

‘Look at the flocks’

DNR is holding the removal “event” after years of angling groups seeking it, and after a proviso was tacked onto the 2013-2014 budget directing the agency “through the use of existing funds” to manage public participation in “cormorant control activities.”

Truman Lyon, the South Carolina Guides Association representative for Berkeley County, makes no bones about it.

“We definitely need to have this hunt,” he said. “Look at the roosts. Look at the banks. Look at the flocks and flocks of (cormorants) on the lakes. There are many, many more than there ever were. There’s nothing to kill them,” he said.

Studies have shown that the birds eat a tremendous amount of fish. But that’s alongside other birds and, of course, the fish themselves.

How much the feasting might be depleting the game fish isn’t clear. The lakes – relatively shallow, stagnant and heavily fished – have long been a problematic fishery to manage. Previous declines in game fish species have been blamed on factors such as overfishing, aquatic cover removal and drought, as well as competition for food. The recent cold snap killed bait fish.

Striped bass, or stripers, were the trophy fish that turned the lakes into what has been touted as a $300 million-per-year tourism destination. In the early 2000s the striper numbers went into a precipitous decline, but aggressive stocking and tighter catch restrictions, among other measures, brought them back.

“There’s loads of stripers,” Lyon said, but crappie and bream numbers are not where they should be, he said, and catfish have depleted to the point where DNR is now imposing a limit of 20 fish per day per person in the boat.

Cormorants increasing

How many cormorants there actually are around the lakes isn’t clear, although observers generally agree there are a lot, and they are increasing.

The removal hunt was given a depredation permit “to protect public resources” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency in charge of managing protected species. The permit doesn’t require population numbers to be reported, just the harvest, said Tom McKenzie, Southeast region media relations chief.

Santee Cooper, the quasi-state utility that manages the lakes, officially is staying hands-off.

DNR manages the fish and game for Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, said Santee Cooper spokeswoman Nicole Aiello; it is the agency’s role to make decisions such as this one.

DNR staff have concerns about the “event.” Staff will fly over the lakes before and afterward to do counts of cormorants, along with other protected bird species such as bald eagles, anhingas and wood storks. That data will be reviewed to decide – among other things – whether to hold the hunt again.

800 hunters qualified

“We’re not concerned about the future of the migrating cormorant population, because it has grown so much,” said Derrell Shipes, DNR Wildlife Statewide Projects, Research and Survey chief. The birds are now so numerous they routinely are caught in the lakes’ fish passage, he said.

More than 800 people have qualified to hunt the birds, making the “public removal” so labor-intensive that the agency doesn’t have the staff to enforce bag limits. The hunters each have taken part in a training session that includes warnings not to mistakenly shoot other similar-looking, protected species such as anhingas and wood ducks or face arrest.

The scheduled two-month “event” can be stopped at any time by DNR, Shipes said.

“All of us should pay attention to what we’re doing,” he said. “When we have the harvest information, we’ll step back, look at the problems and issues and go from there.”

Brunswig isn’t buying it. DNR wouldn’t hold this hunt if it wasn’t being pressured to, he said. The cormorant population went into serious decline with the use of the now-banned DDT. The increase of birds on the lakes means the population is re-establishing itself.

“We should be celebrating that, it seems to me,” he said. The removal “is a sad thing.”


Nothing to Be Proud Of, Part 2

In an earlier post entitled, “Nothing to Be Proud Of,” I hinted at the regrettable fact that I used to fish. I promised that details would be forthcoming, but I realize now that this subject is worthy of a series of posts, starting with…

I’ve always been an “animal” person. The household dog, Jake—a German shepherd malamute mix—was my best friend and constant companion. He was my canine connection with the wolf, which I considered my “totem” animal.

But I wasn’t a one note wildlife advocate; I cared about all the animals of the land, sky and sea. Yet I subscribed to the all too common misconception that human beings had to eat meat. The food pyramid of the era in which I grew up (the 1960s and ‘70s) was as old as the mummified pharos and as outdated as the antiquated Egyptian practices of slavery and human sacrifice.

I was a self-taught naturalist and bird watcher, but I never aspired to be a nutritionist. I thought vegetarianism was a practice followed mostly by Eastern mystics, yogis, Hari Krishnas and the occasional hippie. And I was similarly ignorant about the intelligence of fish. Accepted “science” of the time held fish well below the surface of air-breathing, and therefore “aware,” animals. (Even today, grocery stores advertise “meat and fish,” as if fish flesh is somehow different from the flesh of we mammals.)

At the risk of sounding like an editor from Field and Stream, some of my fondest memories of my father centered around fishing at our family cabin. I was put off by power boating, but instead enjoyed taking the row boat out at first light while the lake was calm as glass and fish were jumping at the surface. As the morning fog lifted, motor boats would invariably break the calm, dragging water skiers around and around, while the fish would dive for cover.

Of course I could have left my fishing gear behind and just enjoyed rowing the boat across the lake, but at the time I went along with accepted thought and considered fish as “food,” perhaps even a more natural and environmentally sound choice than farm animals (I hadn’t even heard the term “factory farmed” yet).

I know now, after witnessing fish swim off trailing hook, line and sinker or flapping in piles on the decks of commercial gill net boats, that fishing is in no way a sound practice. Contrary to archaic, and perhaps wishful thinking on the part of fishermen, fish are part of the animal kingdom and share the same basic responses to pain as birds and mammals.

According to an article in Veganism and Nonviolence, by Gentle World: From salmon making the long journey from river to ocean andimages back, to goldfish swimming circles around a small pond, the inner lives of fishes are a mystery that scientists are only beginning to unravel. One of the key elements they are searching for is the extent to which each fish is sentient or, more specifically, how they process what we would call a “painful” sensation (such as a hook cutting into their lip.)

On this journey, scientists have discovered that fish have nerve structures that are anatomically very similar to those of humans and many other species of animals. Among these common structures are receptor cells called nociceptors, which are found throughout animals’ bodies and are activated by stimuli expected to cause damage to bodily tissues. Tellingly, some species of fish have upwards of 58 different nociceptors located in their lips alone*.

As in human anatomy, these nociceptors are wired by nerve fibers to the central nervous system (the spinal cord and brain.) When the pain centers in the brain are activated by signals from the nociceptors, they trigger the body to respond to the potentially harmful or life threatening events that may be happening.

Fish anatomy is so complex that they have even evolved the same “pain-blocking” substances (endorphins) as humans.** It is theorized that endorphins help animals to tolerate pain from severe injuries in order to help them escape from a predator. This leaves us with the question: Why would fish have endorphins in their bodies if they couldn’t feel pain? And why is there still a debate over their sentience?

Nothing to Be Proud Of

Being born human is nothing to be automatically proud of. For all you knew, you could just as easily have been born a poodle or pit bull, a parrot, or a penguin, a pig, a platypus or a polar bear. If you ever saw your undeveloped embryo, you’d swear it was a chicken or fish, or a pollywog for that matter—but certainly not the crown of creation.

Call it luck or chance, or even fate (depending on how you feel about who or what you turned out to be), but don’t think it a miracle. Surely God has better things to do than personally see to it that you joined the billions of other humans on the planet on a one-way journey to find a meaningful life.

For most of us, the world would be better off if we hatched out prematurely, at say, the gilled or amphibian stage. If all a person does with their oversized brain is eat hot dogs and memorize baseball statistics, they might as well have been born a carp or a newt—some species evolutionarily locked into a repetitious and relatively mundane way of life.

The only thing that makes human beings any better than some sort of a lowly (but not necessarily loathsome) scavenger is the ability to improve their behavior and evolve beyond their destructive urges. For example, I used to eat meat and enjoy fishing. More on that in an upcoming post…