The federal government is moving ahead with a proposal to protect the habitat of two Arctic seals. Public hearings start next week and will be hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
After being delayed for almost a decade, the federal agency proposed what’s called critical habitat designation last month in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Bearded and ringed seals were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2012 by the Obama administration. Though the species is still in relative abundance compared to other threatened species, long-term climate projections for the region forecast diminished sea ice, which the seals live off.
The hearings are scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 24-26 at 4 p.m. Anyone can submit their comments on the topic either by calling in during the hearings or submitting a written comment through the website.
Those who wish to make public comments can call 800-201-3962, and enter the conference code 651174.
The public comment period on the critical habitat ends on March 9.