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 pilot has not been identified. The Coast Guard says initial reports are that the pilot is responsive, but has chest pains.
- Sealaska just released its 2015 annual report, which illustrates its financial ups and downs. They affect more than 22,000 shareholders, who receive dividends twice a year.
- Juneau Bar Association asks Gov. Walker to consider geographic diversity before making his selection.
- Many of Alaska’s rural schools are not working. Low student performance and high teacher turnover are just two of more obvious indicators of problems in these mostly Native school districts. Those working in the schools say it’s time for radical changes.