Salmon and Sea Lions Face Off

Native Americans are keenly interested in science. Just ask an Indian fisherman.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, tribal fishermen have been embroiled in a controversy over salmon.

The most recent tempest has pitted salmon against encroaching sea lions, who feast on fish at Bonneville Dam.

And fishermen are angry.

Each year, more and more sea lions swim upstream from California to munch on the salmon who return to spawn. Local tribes estimate that sea lions take a healthy percent of the salmon—an important part of their culture, livelihood and history.

And while the salmon are a protected species, so are many of the sea lion species. Many pinnipeds are listed as endangered species, so getting rid of them requires a court order—-literally.

Stakeholders are divided, with some—-like the US Humane Society-—claiming an interest in the welfare of the sea lions. Other groups, including state governments, favor removing the sea lions to keep salmon populations intact.

Salmon numbers in this region dwindled dramatically after dams were constructed in the 1903s, with some species close to extinction. Recovery efforts have helped replenish the rivers, but salmon have never rebounded entirely even with scores of scientists working full-time on salmon sustainability.

When the courts approved removal of the sea lions—-even through lethal means—-the issue grabbed news headlines and my team went to work, searching the news for prominent frames and recording public opinion on the issue.

We’ve just published results of our studies which I will detail in the blog all week. For an advance copy, I’ve uploaded the report:
Report Web Optimized

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About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. She is enrolled with the Osage tribe.
This entry was posted in framing, health, Native Science, risk, salmon, science, science communication, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Salmon and Sea Lions Face Off

  1. M Forner says:

    1903s ? Did you mean 1930’s?

    Like

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