Oct 24 2013

Eastern Steller sea lions removed from Endangered Species Act list

Seafood News

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Cordova Times] By Margarate Bauman – October 24, 2013 – Steller sea lions within the eastern distinct population segment, east of Prince William Sound, will be removed from the Endangered Species Act list, Jim Balsiger, administrator for NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska region said Oct. 23.

This is the first species NOAA has delisted, citing recovery, since the eastern North Pacific gray whale was taken off the list of threatened and endangered species in 1994.

The delisting will take effect 30 days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

Balsiger said the agency is delighted to see the recover of this population segment of Steller sea lions, and that they would work with the states and other partners to monitor the population to ensure its continued health.

NOAA officials said delisting is warranted because the species has met the recovery criteria outlined in its 2008 recovery plan and no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the act.

Best available scientific information indicates the eastern Steller sea lion population has increased from an estimated 18.040 animals in 1979 to an estimated 70,174 animals in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.

Eastern Steller sea lions will continue to be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. With delisting, federal agencies proposing actions that may affect the eastern Steller sea lions are no longer required to consult with NOAA Fisheries under Section 7 of the ESA. NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor the effects of proposed projects on the eastern population to ensure existing measures under the Marine Mammals Protection Act provide necessary protection to maintain recovery status, Balsiger said.

NOAA has developed a post-delisting monitoring plan for this population. As a precautionary measure, the plan will be in effect for a decade, twice the required five year time period under the ESA.

Read the full story here.

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