The Siuslaw news. (Florence, Lane County, Or.) 1960-current, November 17, 2018, SATURDAY EDITION, Page 3B, Image 13

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SALEM — The National
Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) has approved the
Oregon Department of Fish
and Wildlife’s application to
lethally remove the few
California sea lions present at
Willamette falls in an effort to
help save winter steelhead
and spring Chinook from
Sea lions are protected
under the federal Marine
Mammal Protection Act
(MMPA). On Oct. 6, 2017,
ODFW applied for authoriza-
tion to remove California sea
lions at Willamette Falls
under a provision of the
MMPA that allows for limited
lethal take of sea lions that are
having a negative impact on
protected fish species.
ODFW filed for the appli-
cation because their analyses
showed that the high levels of
predation by sea lions (25
percent of the steelhead run
in 2017) meant there was an
almost 90 percent probability
that one of the upper
Willamette steelhead runs
would go extinct.
The level of predation on
spring Chinook, although
lower (7-9 percent annually),
was still enough to increase
the extinction risk by 10-15
The NMFS reached their
decision after considering
public comment on ODFW’s
application as well as the rec-
ommendations of a 14-mem-
ber stakeholder taskforce.
“This is good news for the
native runs of salmon and
steelhead in the Willamette
River,” said Dr. Shaun
Clements, ODFW policy ana-
lyst on the sea lion issue.
“Before this decision, the
state’s hands were tied as far
as limiting sea lion predation
on the Willamette River. We
did put several years’ effort
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into non-lethal deterrence,
none of which worked.
“The unfortunate reality is
that, if we want to prevent
extinction of the steelhead
ODFW requested and was
granted authority to remove
up to one percent of the pop-
ulation’s “potential biological
“Steller sea lions are preying
heavily on sturgeon in the
lower Willamette but current
federal law prohibits us from
doing anything about that...”
—Dr. Shaun Clements, ODFW policy analyst
and Chinook, we will have to
lethally remove sea lions at
this location.”
Clements noted that this
authorization will do nothing
to help curb the recent influx
of the much larger steller sea
lions into the basin, or their
impact on white sturgeon, a
species that can live up to 100
“Steller sea lions are prey-
ing heavily on sturgeon in the
lower Willamette but current
federal law prohibits us from
doing anything about that,”
said Clements.
California sea lions in the
U.S. are not listed as “endan-
gered” or “threatened” under
the Endangered Species Act
(ESA). The most recent pop-
ulation estimate for the U.S.
stock was 296,750 animals in
removal” level, a metric that
translates to a maximum of
93 animals a year on the lower
According to ODFW’s
Marine Mammal Program
Lead Dr. Shea Steingass, there
are 50-100 animals that are
present at the Falls at some
point in the year.
“Removal of these sub-
adult and adult males will
have no impact on viability of
the sea lion population but
will greatly improve the out-
look for threatened upper
Willamette winter steelhead
runs,” she said.
With federal authorization
now in place, ODFW can
move forward with plans to
trap and remove sea lions
from the Willamette.
“We currently have up to
12 animals at the Falls and a
majority of those have been
seen here every year for the
past 10 years” said Steingass.
ODFW will have to meet
two federally-mandated cri-
teria to remove an individual
sea lion: it must be observed
in the area between
Willamette Falls and the
mouth of the Clackamas
River for two days, or be seen
eating salmonids.
Those sea lions captured
on the Willamette by agency
biologists will be transported
to a secure facility and
humanely euthanized by a
veterinary staff. Staff will also
perform a necropsy and col-
lect samples to determine the
age, health, and diet of the
animal in an effort to better
understand ecology and
behavior of these animals.
ODFW will continue to
monitor sea lion predation at
Willamette Falls, and report
its findings to NMFS, which
will decide in five years
whether to renew ODFW’s
Clements said the action is
about striking a balance
between the recovery of
imperiled salmon and steel-
head and the ongoing conser-
vation of sea lions.
“We are trying to prevent a
few individual sea lions from
habituating to these areas that
are hundreds of miles from
the ocean where they are
especially effective at driving
already depleted fish popula-
tions further down the path
to extinction,” he said.
Predation by pinnipeds
also threatens to undermine
the gains made by significant
regional investments in
recovery efforts, such as
improvements in fish passage
at dams, restoration of fish
habitat, and implementation
of fishing regulations that
prohibit anglers from har-
vesting wild fish.
The MMPA, unlike the
ESA, has fewer tools for man-
agers to use to balance the
conservation of predators and
prey and prevent these situa-
tions in locations where fish
are most vulnerable. Sections
of the MMPA were revised in
1994 to allow limited man-
agement of sea lions for the
purpose of protecting ESA-
listed salmon and steelhead.
Unfortunately, the revi-
sions do not allow for proac-
tive management and cannot
address emergencies like that
occurring at Willamette Falls.
In this regard, ODFW has
been working with Oregon’s
congressional delegation,
which is working on a legisla-
tive solution that would give
wildlife managers broader
authority to deal with conser-
vation problems if they arise
elsewhere in the Columbia
“I’m optimistic that we’ll
get what we need from
Congress, but also nervous
that time is running out to get
this done before the end of
the congressional calendar,”
said Clements.
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The Oregon State Marine Board
mailed approximately 75,000 boat reg-
istration renewal notices to boaters
whose boat registration expires on
Dec. 31, 2018. Each renewal notice is
unique to the owner and their boat.
Boaters have three options to renew.
The fastest option is online using
the Marine Board’s online store. After
completing the transaction, boaters
can print a temporary permit and go
boating right away. There is no trans-
action fee when using a credit or debit
card online.
Other options include mailing the
payment and coupon to the Marine
Board or visiting a local registration
agent, who will issue a temporary per-
stations, decontamination equipment,
inspectors, signage and education
materials. The average boat length in
Oregon is 16 feet, so the two-year reg-
istration costs $77 (including AIS fee).
The Marine Board is funded entire-
ly by motorized boat and sailboat reg-
istrations, motorboat fuel tax and
receives federal funding to support
services to boaters. Nearly .86 cents of
every dollar are returned to boaters in
the form of law enforcement services,
boat ramps, restrooms (floating and
land-based), parking, boarding floats,
facilities engineering/design services
and boating education outreach.
Access the online store at www.boat
mit for an additional fee.
Other online services include:
• Apply for a Boater Education Card
or Replacement Card
• Purchase Aquatic Invasive Species
(AIS) Permits for nonmotorized boats
• Apply for the boat’s Certificate of
Title or a Replacement Title
• Register a new boat
• Register or renew as an Outfitter
or Guide
• Apply for a Charter Boat license
The cost to register a motorboat or
sailboat 12 feet or longer is $4.50 per
foot, rounded to the highest foot, plus
a $5 aquatic invasive species fee.
The Aquatic Invasive Species
Prevention fund pays for inspection
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