A terrible sight on Piura’s most picturesque beach – hundreds of Sea Lions washed up dead on the white sands. In front of homes and hotels, the bodies of these animals rot, all so that the fishermen that poisoned them can continue dangerous and unsustainable over-fishing the seas.
Two weeks ago, residents of Colán reported that the animals began to wash up on the beaches, one or two at a time, but then a week ago the numbers increased dramatically. Rough counts suggest as many as 260 of the creatures are now laying dead on the long beach.
Accusations are focused on the anchovy fishing fleets, which set sail days before the first animals were found dead. The fleets often face problems with Sea Lions who rip their nets to get at the masses of captured anchovies.
An analysis was carried out on some of the bodies and found that the animals had been killed with rat poison. The sea lions are thought to have been thrown baited fish and later died.
According to the government minister Mercedes Aráoz, the act was “an unforgivable ecological crime”, though it remains to be seen if any action is taken. Ecological destruction generally gets ignored by government should it come with economic benefits.
According to autopsies carried out on some of the animals, several appear to have been shot as well as poisoned. Those shot seem to have had their genitalia removed, causing suspicions among some that the culprits are Chinese fishing boats. The Chinese regularly invade the territorial waters of Peru and other countries to conduct illegal mass fishing, and they also use animal genitalia in traditional medicine.