A video of a fisherman appearing to throw an explosive at a pack of sea lions has sparked anger.
The footage shared animal rights group SeaLegacy on Instagram shows a fisherman on board a vessel at Strait of Georgia, west of Vancouver.
The man is seen throwing the small explosive into the middle of the pack and it explodes after a few seconds, causing the sea lions to disperse.
One of the men on board is heard chuckling.
“Oh, that was awesome,” one of them says.
Another adds: “That was a good one”.
The original version was posted in Facebook group Pacific Balance Pinniped Society.
The society states its mission is to bring back salmon stocks to “sustainable levels”, and part of that is through monitoring seal and sea lion populations.
Pinnipeds are species including seals, sea lions and walruses.
‘I’m lucky that I’m not in a wheelchair’
SeaLegacy wrote on Instagram “setting off explosives next to the head of an animal will call irreparable damage”.
“If it does not injure it enough to kill, it will probably damage its hearing, or destroy an eye,” it wrote.
The fisherman identified as Allan Marsden told CTV News there was “nothing” he would not do to protect himself and those on board the boat.
“I got bit before,” he told CTV News.
“I’m lucky that I’m not in a wheelchair, or worse, dragged overboard and drowned by the sea lion.”
He also told The Canadian Press news agency he used a bear banger, a type of flare which emits a banging noise, to scatter the animals and not to hurt them.
But Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Jonathan Wilkinson also told the station what Mr Marsden did was illegal.
He acknowledged there had been concern about the seals and sea lions, but called Mr Marsden’s actions an example of harassment.
Mr Marsden is yet to be charged with an offence.
The video also angered people on Instagram with many calling for Mr Marsden to be reprimanded.
“This is absolutely despicable and they’re laughing about it,” one woman wrote.
“It’s behaviour like this that makes me despair for the wildlife and biodiversity on our planet.”
‘I got bit before… I’m lucky I’m not in a wheelchair…’
– Allan Marsden
But some supported the fisherman’s actions.
“Sea lions are thieving lazy fat pigs in the sea,” one man wrote.
“They need to hunt for their food instead of mooching off a fisherman. They are overpopulated. They are lazy.
“I’d personally like to see a hunting season on them. Fishermen cannot fish with these huge and dangerous pests around them.”
A 30-page report was released by government-appointed Wild Salmon Advisory Council last week with recommendations on how to increase the species’ population.
One of those recommendations is to invest in and support salmon “enhancement activities” and engage with science and conservation communities to develop intervention methods for pinnipeds “threatening wild salmon rebuilding efforts”.
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