Three independent reviewers are questioning the science behind a decision to restrict commercial fishing to protect endangered Steller sea lions in Alaska.
The reviewers say a federal biological opinion doesn’t support that restricting fishing in the Aleutian Islands will help sea lion survival.
The western population of Steller sea lions was listed as endangered in 1997. The National Marine Fisheries Service says their numbers fell sharply from 250,000 in the early 1970s and remained at just 49,000 in 2008.
State of Alaska attorneys in an unsuccessful court case argued against fishing restrictions and said the population of western Steller sea lions is growing.
Fisheries Service spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the agency is reviewing the independent report and will determine whether follow-up actions are warranted.
- Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg heard oral arguments in a lawsuit on the issue. He said he’ll try to reach a decision as quickly as he can.
- Walker said he has spoken several times with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whose vote could help determine the bill’s fate.
- State transportation crews are removing political campaign signs along state rights-of-way. Alaska law largely forbids signs anywhere visible from the roadway.
- The University of Alaska is offering up 400 acres of its Haines-area land for timber harvest. The timing of the university’s decision was motivated by a conversation happening at the local level. The Haines Planning Commission is considering whether to restrict resource extraction in the Mud Bay area.