California Sea Lion

Conservation & Research

Bans on Hunting

In Canada, the federal Fisheries Act has prohibited the killing of California sea lions since 1970.

California Sea Lion/Salmon Conflict

California sea lions on the coast of Seattle, Washington prey on a declining population of winter steelhead salmon that return to the Lake Washington drainage to spawn each winter. Government agencies, in an attempt to prevent shootings of sea lions, have employed a number of harmless techniques to discourage this predation. These techniques include a high-decibel "acoustic barrier": loud sounds intended to deter sea lions from entering spawning grounds. So far, efforts to abate the sea lions have been inconclusive.

    The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)

    The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 made it illegal to hunt or harass any marine mammal in U.S. waters.

    The MMPA does allow for certain exceptions: native subsistence hunting; collecting or temporarily restraining marine mammals for research, education, and public display; and taking restricted numbers of marine mammals incidentally in the course of fishing operations.

    The primary objective of the MMPA is to maintain the health and stability of the marine ecosystem and to obtain and maintain an optimum sustainable population of marine mammals.

    • According to the MMPA, all seals and sea lions in U.S. waters are under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

    IUCN/The World Conservation Union

    The Galápagos sea lion is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

    The Japanese sea lion is listed as extinct by the IUCN.

    Marine Zoological Parks

    Zoological institutions rescue, treat, shelter, and release California sea lions that have become stranded due to illness, injury, or abandonment. SeaWorld San Diego is part of the Marine Mammal

    Stranding Network under the National Marine Fisheries Service, and is responsible for rescuing, treating and releasing hundreds of injured, ill or orphaned California sea lions in addition to other stranded marine animals at its state-of-the-art rescue and rehabilitation facility.

    Having California sea lions at marine zoological parks provides the opportunity for the public to learn about these animals and how human activities may impact their survival.
    In the protected environment of a marine zoological park, scientists can examine aspects of California sea lion biology that are difficult or impossible to study in the wild.