Longtime Hornby Island resident Alan Fletcher found the dead sea lion on the beach in front of his home after watching it come in with the tide.

“It was bleeding from the head and the rest of the body looked really intact,” he said. “Obviously there are other ways a sea lion could die, entanglement in nets and the transient orcas were around, but.”

Local conservation group Sea Shepherd is blaming the death of herring fishermen.

“Given the fishermen attitudes towards sea lions, some of the social media that’s been coming out from the commercial fisherman who’ve advocated for a cull of sea lions this death wasn’t surprising at all,” said Sea Shepherd’s Lockhart MacLean.

But fishermen Thomas Sewid says herring fishermen have been under close scrutiny from DFO officers and says it couldn’t have been any of them.

In a message to CHEK News, Sewid went as far as to say it could have been a local environmentalist who did it in order to “draw attention to their plight.”

A DFO official said fisheries officers were on the scene Thursday trying to locate the sea lion and to collect more information.

“This all could have been prevented if the gillnet portion of the fishery had been monitored and if DFO inspectors had been here during the fishery,” said MacLean.

Meanwhile, Alan Fletcher takes a bigger picture approach and is blaming the federal fisheries minister.

“And the problem with the Minister of Fisheries is he’s only there for four years so there’s no long term planning, there’s no look at how we’re dealing with our marine environment in a real serious sort of way and it’s starting to catch up with us,” he said.

Dean Stoltz