When the MMPA was enacted in the ’70s, about 12,000 pups were born each year, according to data from the NMFS. In past decades, the birth rate has spiked up and down, including a big dip in the late ’90s. Yet, on average, pup counts have increased by 5.4 percent annually between 1975 and 2008, NMFS data indicates. By 2011, the pup count had swelled to more than 60,000. Today, NMFS population estimates hover around 250,000 to 275,000 California sea lions and 71,000 Steller sea lions.