The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is opening public comment on a plan to relax Steller sea lion protections and allow more commercial fishing in the western Aleutian Islands.
The agency released a draft of its new regulations on Tuesday. They would pave the way for the first commercial harvests of Atka mackerel and Pacific cod since 2011.
That’s when federal managers banned fishing on those species in the western Aleutians. It was intended to help an endangered population of sea lions. But commercial fishing interests and the state of Alaska argued that the science behind the fishing bans were faulty.
After years of litigation — and a comprehensive, court-ordered reassessment of the protection plan — NOAA ruled that commercial fishing wouldn’t jeopardize the sea lions if it was done under the right conditions.
Members of the public will have 45 days to weigh in on a draft of the new fishing regulations. The comment period will close on August 15. NOAA’s aiming to finalize the new rules by January 2015.
- The Juneau Assembly voted 6-3 to reaffirm its commitment to combating climate change. Opponents argued against interjecting into a national debate.
- The Utah man accused of killing his wife aboard a cruise ship in Southeast Alaska is scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing 10 a.m. Wednesday.
- More than 50 pilots and flight attendants picketed Monday afternoon in front of Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage. Their goal was to call on Alaska Airlines management to give them what they view as fairer wages and benefits.
- Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said being unaffiliated has helped him and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott work on issues without concern about party politics.