Environmentalists see link between sea lion deaths and fishermen


At least four dead sea lions, apparently some with bullet holes, have recently washed up on city beaches, and local environmentalists suspect that the deaths are tied to squid fishermen currently plying the waters off Malibu.

Surfers and residents who live on the beach say they have heard what sound like gunshots while the boats are offshore. Under state law, fishermen are permitted to shoot sea lions if the animals are significantly interfering with the catch.

Members of Save Our Coast alerted the City Council Monday about the sea lions’ deaths in hope the city can stop the shootings if that is what is taking place.

The council promised to alert appropriate government officials and to ask them for an investigation into the deaths.

This is squid fishing season, and the fishermen’s boats are regularly seen offshore during the daytime and at night with their stadium-like lighting.

Mary Frampton, of Save Our Coast, said a Paradise Cove resident, recently wandering the beach there, found a dead sea lion that appeared to have been shot.

Elaine Bear, who lives at the Malibu Bay Club, said a mangled sea lion pup washed ashore on New Year’s weekend. An adult sea lion, apparently its mother, barked in anguish for hours as people on the beach approached the dead pup. Since that incident, Bear said, two other sea lions, apparently with bullet holes, have been found near the county line.

“If they were shooting dogs, we would be hysterical,” said Bear. “And this ocean is our backyard.”