Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Chilean chapter has quickly grown under the care of Coordinator Francisco Henriquez. This chapter is now a strong and effective supporter of Sea Shepherd's international conservation missions. Unfortunately, Chile faces many environmental problems of its own and one of the biggest marine issues it faces now is the slaughter of South American Sea Lions. In this article, Henriquez shares details about the increased killings of local sea lions and the expiring law currently protecting them and asks for your help in safeguarding their future. 

South American Sea Lions are in Great PerilSouth American Sea Lions in Chile neared the brink of extinction during the mid-nineteenth century.  Although their population gradually recovered over the course of following decades, these sea lions are once again in serious danger due to the increasing illegal trade of sea lion-based products as well as people taking over their natural habitat, leading to a scarcity of food and shelter for their community.

It is well known that sea lions are an integral part of the natural ecosystem along the Chilean coast. Unfortunately, the growing confrontation between sea lions and fishermen is quickly destroying this delicate balance. Fishermen claim that sea lions not only diminish the fish supply but also interfere with their fishing techniques.

Sea lions are legally protected in Chile from being hunted up to the year of 2012, but the Chilean government is looking to legalize the sea lion hunt when this law expires.  In order to convince the community to accept such measures, the government has fabricated lies that sea lions are overpopulated along the Chilean coast and are to blame for the diminishing local fish stocks. In addition to the hunting and killing of sea lions, authorities want to institute other regulatory measures to control the population including selling these animals to international aquatic parks. Now this all sounds very familiar to Sea Shepherd's dolphin campaign in Taiji, Japan, you may have heard of it?

There is a great deal of misinformation about the impact that sea lions have on the Austral hake population. Officials argue that the sea lions are making a large impact on the commercial fishing industry by suggesting that "sea lions are stealing 80% of the fishes."  Yet an independent study conducted by the Marine Science Ices Diary led by Spanish scientist Ana de La Torriente in October of 2009 showed that sea lions on the Chilean coast were only responsible for only "2% of the total predation of Austral hake."

(l to r) Sea Shepherd Chile: Pietro Rissetti, Paola Herrera, Marco Garcia, Macarena Quezada, Francisco Henriquez(l to r) Sea Shepherd Chile: Pietro Rissetti, Paola Herrera, Marco Garcia, Macarena Quezada, Francisco Henriquez

Sea lions are a vital part of the natural ecosystem.  Not only do they prey on the sick and weak fish, but they also hunt for salmon escapees from fish farms that threaten the native fish species along the Chilean coast.

The worst part of it all is that fishermen are already taking matters into their own hands by killing sea lions illegally at their discretion.  Salmon farmers are also shooting sea lions to prevent them from interfering with salmon fishery nets.  Aside from the threats they face locally, they are also desired by the international Asian market, which buys their flesh on the black market as aphrodisiacs. Asian markets pay top dollar for sea lion reproductive organs, and Chile continues to deliver these harvested organs right into their hands.  Even if the existing laws protecting sea lions are ratified again in 2012, the illegal sale of these products on the black market will not cease to persist.

Unfortunately, as in the case of most threatened animals, history shows that humans only choose to take action when the situation is most dire.  When sea lions in Chile were about to become extinct two hundred years ago, measures were taken to ban the hunt and sale of sea lions.  Now in 2010, we see the government working in direct conflict with those laws just to turn a profit with no disregard for the wildlife and precious ecosystem.  The sea lions need our help, please take action to spread the word about this atrocity taking place in our own country and take a stand for these incredible creatures.

What you can do:

Please help safeguard the future of the sea lions in Chile writing to oirs@subpesca.cl and Pablo Galilea of Subsecretaria Nacional de Pesca (Chilean?s National Fishing Subsecretary) and asking for their support in protection of Chile's sea lions and fisheries before it's too late.

You can also follow Sea Shepherd Chile on Facebook

To join Sea Shepherd Chile as a volunteer, write to chile@seashepherd.org

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La sede chilena de Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ha, rapidamente, crecido gracias a todo el trabajo del Coordinador Francisco Henriquez. Esta sede es, hoy en dia, muy fuerte y efectiva como apoyo de todas las misiones internacionales que Sea Shepherd realiza. Desafortunadamente, Chile enfrenta muchos problemas medioambientales propios y una de las problematicas marinas mas importantes guarda relacion con las matanzas de lobos marinos sudamericanos. En este articulo, Henriquez comparte detalles acerca de como han aumentado las matanzas locales de lobos marinos y la actual expiracion de la ley que les protege, pidiendoles a todos que se sumen a ayudar a cuidar la vida de estas especies y su futuro.

South American Sea Lions are in Great Peril

Los lobos marinos casi se extinguieron en Chile durante mediados del Siglo 19. Aun cuando la poblacion se fue recuperando gradualmente durante el curso de las decadas, los lobos marinos estan en serio peligro porque el ser humano esta invadiendo su habitat natural, llevando a la escasez sus fuentes alimenticias y ademas comercializando productos ilegales de lobos marinos.

A lo largo de la costa chilena es conocido que los lobos son parte integral del ecosistema. Desafortunadamente la creciente confrontacion entre lobos marinos y pescadores esta destruyendo este delicado equilibrio. Los pescadores reclaman que los lobos no solo disminuyen su provision de pesca sino que interfieren con sus tecnicas de pesca.

Los lobos marinos en Chile estan legalmente protegidos de la caza hasta el ano 2012. Pero el gobierno de Chile quiere legalizar la caza de lobos marinos cuando la ley expire. Para convencer a la comunidad que acepte estas medidas, el gobierno ha perpetuado mentiras tales como que los lobos marinos estan sobrepoblados a lo largo de la costa chilena y que es la razon por la cual las reservas de peces estan disminuyendo. Ademas de la caza y matanza de lobos marinos, las autoridades quieren instituir otras medidas reglamentarias para controlar la poblacion, incluyendo la venta de estos animales a los parques acuaticos internacionales; esto suena muy familiar a otra de nuestras campanas en Taiji...?no?

Hay mucha desinformacion sobre el impacto que tienen los lobos marinos sobre la poblacion de la merluza austral. Los pescadores alegan que los lobos marinos estan teniendo un fuerte impacto en la pesca comercial y sugieren que los "lobos marinos estan robando el 80% de los peces". Un estudio de octubre de 2009 de Marine Science Ices Diary conducido por la cientista espanola Ana De la Torriente, demostro que los lobos marinos en la costa chilena eran responsables por solo el 2% de depredacion de la merluza austral.

(l to r) Sea Shepherd Chile: Pietro Rissetti, Paola Herrera, Marco Garcia, Macarena Quezada, Francisco Henriquez(l to r) Sea Shepherd Chile: Pietro Rissetti, Paola Herrera, Marco Garcia, Macarena Quezada, Francisco Henriquez

Los lobos marinos son una parte importante del ecosistema. No solo depredan los peces debiles y enfermos sino que tambien depredan el salmon que escapan de las granjas de peces y amenazan a las especies nativas de la costa chilena.

Los pescadores ya estan matando ilegalmente a los lobos marinos. Los salmoneros tambien les estan disparando para impedirles que interfieran en las balsas jaula. Pero los lobos marinos tambien enfrentan el deseo de los mercados asiaticos por la carne vendida en el mercado negro como afrodisiaco. Los mercados asiaticos pagan altas sumas por los organos reproductivos de los lobos marinos y Chile continua entregando estos organos de manera ilegal. Incluso si las leyes existentes que protegen al lobo marino son ratificadas nuevamente en el 2012, la venta ilegal de estos productos en el mercado negro persistira.

Desafortunadamente para la mayoria de los animales amenazados, los humanos eligen actuar solo cuando la situacion es mas extrema. Cuando los lobos marinos en Chile estuvieron a punto de extinguirse doscientos anos atras, se tomaron  medidas para prohibir la caza de lobos marinos. Ahora en el 2010 vemos al gobierno trabajando en conflicto directo con aquellas leyes solo para obtener un beneficio. Los lobos marinos necesitan de nuestra ayuda.

Que puedes hacer:

Escribe a oirs@subpesca.cl y dile, respetuosamente, a Pablo Galilea de la Subsecretaria Nacional de Pesca, que el Lobo Marino chileno y poblaciones de peces deben ser protegidas, antes de que sea demasiado tarde. Tambien puedes unirte al grupo en Facebook de Sea Shepherd Chile y tambien unirte como voluntario escribiendo a chile@seashepherd.org

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