Sea Lions Found Shot in Malibu

The penalty if convicted for shooting a sea lion is $10,000 and possible jail time.

A photo showing squid fishing boats in Malibu in October. Credit: Elizabeth Smelser Fox
A photo showing squid fishing boats in Malibu in October. Credit: Elizabeth Smelser Fox
Three sea lions that washed ashore in Malibu in October had signs of gunshot wounds, a violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to reports.

Wildlife rescuers from the California Wildlife Center told KCBS-TV that lights that fishermen use to attract squid can also draw the sea lions. Fishermen are permitted to scare the sea lions away, but not harm them. 

According to the California Wetfish Producers Association, there are no reports of shootings within the squid fishing community. 
Diana Mullen October 25, 2013 at 04:11 AM
This is beyond sick and disturbing... of course there would be 'no reports in the squid fishing community...' - they're not going to turn themselves in and pay $10,000. The past month they were out there, en masse, - night after night, non-stop. More than I've ever seen before. To be shooting a creature for doing what it does naturally - look for food - is a crime against nature. Another worry is all the nighttime paddle boarders I've seen out there... if the squid boaters are shooting at sea lions in the water - they're also endangering the humans on the water...
TOPTOBU October 25, 2013 at 09:22 AM
There should be an investigation and a reward. I am willing to donate to find out who did this and have them be an example for others not to do this. Who monitors the squid fishing community?
suzanne demarco October 25, 2013 at 09:37 AM
"and possible jail time" Sorry, Mandatory Jail Time!!
R Y A N October 25, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Jessica, perhaps interviewing the lead person of the enforcement agency for this crime would benefit readers. Then, maybe the public would know what phone number to call if they witness this atrocity.
R J October 25, 2013 at 03:44 PM
I hardly think that weapons brought on board commercial boats off the coast of Malibu are there to hunt squid. We have DUI check points in Malibu for a very good reason, and it pays off. I submit that we should have a FWITK, Fishing With Intent To Kill check point, just as we have DUI check points and do a thorough search for weapons. I also submit that any fishing vessel caught with weapons have repercussions such as having their license to commercially fish be suspended indefinitely, along with a mandatory $25,000 fine PER gun shot wound PER seal, and have their boat seized by law enforcement. If commercial fisherman object to the weapons check while off the coast of Malibu, which they will, then do the THOROUGH check in port just prior to their departure, which the same fines awarded just as if they were caught at sea. I fear no DUI check point because I do not drink.
R J October 25, 2013 at 04:00 PM
After reading the responses on the Patch, I decided to write to elected officials, in Sacramento and D.C. I will ask for a vigorous investigation into this trend, and, I will ask that shooting seals off the coast be a Federal offense, and for the penalties that we posted be adopted and be enforced. It's just not enough for me to vent. This disgusting behavior has got to stop NOW and those guilty of killing seals be held accountable.
Ben Dover October 25, 2013 at 04:21 PM
I hate to be the bearer of bad news RJ, but there is nothing illegal about having a weapon on a boat and in less your in a prohibited area you can actually carry a loaded concealed firearm while fishing or hunting with a valid fishing or hunting license. California Penal Code, section 12025 prohibits carrying concealed firearms in California, however, section 12027 provides the following exemption to this prohibition: “Licensed hunters or fishermen carrying pistols, revolvers or other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person while engaged in hunting or fishing, or transporting those firearms unloaded when going to or returning from the hunting or fishing expedition.” I do not condone the actions of the killer. if they could be found and prosecuted great, but please do me a favor and don't infringe on my right of personal safety and protection, and stop thinking of more frivolous ways to spend my Tax dollars.
Ben Dover October 25, 2013 at 04:35 PM
And it already is a federal offense to harm Marine Mammals.
R J October 25, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Ben, I had no idea that holding irresponsible people to be held accountable for their irresponsible behavior by modifying laws infringed on your personal rights. If you are not doing anything wrong, then the laws should not intimidate you. Nor should the pursuit of irresponsible people intimidate you. Your response did not bring me bad news. It actually helped me a great deal when I write to my elected officials.
Ben Dover October 25, 2013 at 05:24 PM
What I'm saying RJ is that Laws already exist to hold the irresponsible behavior of the individual to significant financial and criminal punishment. Identifying the individual is the almost impossible part, just like Vegas, what happens on a squid boat, stays on a squid boat. In the future if you personally want to make a difference, form a neighborhood squid boat watch, invest in some FLIR cameras, stay up all night during squid season, and you'll be able to identify which vessel the shots came from. I am a Law abiding citizen RJ who lives on the beach and has gone fist to cuffs several times protecting sea life in my backyard, but if you board my boat uninvited at sea and your not a damsel in distress you will face the barrel of my gun.
R J October 25, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Ben you have expanded my world view on this subject exponentially and I thank you for that. I'm not being sarcastic either. I too live in the Bu and have gone to great lengths helping the sea life. I think your suggestion of me forming a squid boat watch etc is more sardonic in nature than it is constructive. I think that contacting elected officials either by myself or en masse is far more conducive to creating dialog between bifurcated opinions that obviously don't share the same passion. That passion, in the case of killing seals, is to resolve to eliminate all together this irresponsible and illegal behavior by shrimp fishermen, or any fisherman illegally killing seals for that matter. Failure to do so will ultimately affect law abiding citizens such as yourself, in a negative way, among other things. If illegal behaviors are occurring on a boat, such as shooting seals, an invitation is not needed to board a boat. Ben I have no desire to support any motivation by any group that would countermand, retract, quash, whatever term you use, your right to bear arms. My complaint about commercial fisherman illegally killing seals has nothing to do with taking away anyone's Second Amendment right. It has everything to do with protecting wildlife from those who insist they have a right to kill a seal just because they have the right to "keep and bear arms." I assure you that when I do contact my elected officials I will not do so with language that attacks in any way the 2nd Amendment. It will have everything to do with reviewing current laws, exploring options to be more aggressive in enforcing those laws, and greatly expand on the penalties. This approach focuses on the individual, and not on the 2nd Amendment nor law abiding persons such as yourself. But again, thank you for your world view. It makes mine more informed in a positive way.
R Y A N October 25, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Upping penalties is just another AFTER THE FACT form of deterrent by example. If penalties worked, there would be no more speeding in construction zones, drunk driving, or driving without a license. The REALITY is that a person makes the decision based on the likelihood of getting caught. The $30,000 potential fine for the existing case would work, if the person could ever be both FOUND AND PROVEN to have done it. PRO-ACTIVE enforcement is necessary, because it is obvious that the fishermen figure that the chance of getting caught in Malibu's waters was next to nothing.
Ben Dover October 25, 2013 at 07:19 PM
The comment wasn't entirely sarcastic, our elected officials locally, statewide,and nationwide can not be trusted anymore with serving the people by evidence of their inaction, they only serve monied corporate interest. FLIR cameras are available, not that expensive, in Malibu it would be easy to fund thru donations of the concerned citizens, and a civilian watch force already exist to police the MPA, maybe they could be tasked with the watch.
Stephanie Winnard October 26, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Whoever did this makes me sick, and I agree with the comments at the top who said that there should be mandatory jail time and also their fishing boats should be seized permanently and a huge fine too. This makes me so upset! :(
Wendi Werner October 26, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Are these commercial fisherman within the MPLA areas?
Hans Laetz October 26, 2013 at 01:58 PM
And just what exactly would the squidwatch accomplish? "Hello, 911, I'd like to report a suspicious flash offshore, among 20 identical boats. No, I cannot identify the individual. No, I cannot identify the boat. No, I do not know if any protected creature was hit. No, I do not know if it was a gun or an M-80. No, I did not know the nearest Fish and Wildlife boat was in Long Beach. Get those guys out of bed and up here as fast as possible." Face it. These shootings are another inevitable and unavoidable consequence of a nation of gun nuts and urban cowboys. Hey, "Anonymous Guy Using The Name Ben," when you say " if you board my boat uninvited at sea and your not a damsel in distress you will face the barrel of my gun" -- do you do it in a pirate voice? Yar.
JR October 27, 2013 at 01:46 AM
Anyone with information about the shooting or harassment of marine mammals can contact me. Special Agent David L. Reilly National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Law Enforcement 501 West Ocean Blvd Suite 4300 Long Beach, CA 90802 (562)980-4056 Office
Stand4Earth October 29, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Please sign this change.org petition to help enforce the protection of sea lions that are being shot off the coast of Malibu, California: http://www.change.org/petitions/national-marine-fisheries-service-nmfs-strictly-enforce-the-protection-of-malibu-s-sea-lions-other-marine-life-that-are-protected-under-the-1972-marine-mammal-protection-act-improve-patrols-supervision-of-practices-of-squid-fishers


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