Management Overview

California sea lions are protected throughout their range under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NOAA Fisheries is working to protect them in many ways, with the goal that populations stay stable and do not fall to depleted or threatened levels.

Two adult female California sea lions

Two adult females in the lagoon at the San Miguel Island breeding rookery. Photo: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center/Eric Boerner.

Conservation Efforts

Minimizing Harassment and Illegal Feeding

As humans interact more with seals and sea lions, they risk disturbing or injuring these animals. Learn more about how to safely and responsibly view seals and sea lions.

Learn more about the rules on feeding and harassing marine mammals in the wild

Reducing Interactions with Fishing Gear

California sea lions can get entangled in fishing gear, causing injury and possibly death. NOAA Fisheries is working to better understand and characterize the frequency, geographic extent, and magnitude of these interactions. We are also working with researchers to find and study ways to safely and effectively make these interactions less likely.

Learn more about bycatch and fisheries interactions

Overseeing Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response

We work with volunteer networks in all coastal states to respond to marine mammal strandings. When stranded animals are found alive, NOAA Fisheries and our partners assess the animal’s health. When stranded animals are found dead, our scientists work to understand and investigate the cause of death. Although the cause often remains unknown, scientists can sometimes identify strandings due to disease, harmful algal blooms, vessel strikes, fishing gear entanglements, pollution exposure, and underwater noise. Some strandings can serve as indicators of ocean health, giving insight into larger environmental issues that may also have implications for human health and welfare.

Learn more about the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program

Regulatory History

This species is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended.

Key Documents

A complete list of regulatory and management documents for California sea lions is available.