Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species
Comments: Pacific Ocean: Recent precipitous declines in the numbers of harbor seals observed at some traditional haulout areas indicate that a fairly high level of threat exists to the long-term viability of these populations. These declines have been most recently documented in the Bering Sea region, where comparable declines have also been documented for both fur seals and Steller's sea lions (Pitcher 1990, Fowler 1982, 1985, York and Kozloff 1987, Braham et al. 1980, Merrick et al. 1987, Calkins and Goodwin 1988). The causes for these declines are not fully known, but food shortages, disease, and entanglement in marine debris are primary factors currently being investigated (Pitcher 1990). Large numbers die from entanglement in gill nets in some areas (annually perhaps 5% of the population in California) (Reeves et al. 1992). In some areas, populations are reduced through government-sponsored culls (Norway) or commercial harvest (Iceland).