Court Backs Stellar Sea Lion Decision

An appeals court has ruled a federal agency acted properly when limiting fishing in the western Aleutian Islands to protect endangered Steller sea lions.


The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday issued its ruling in the challenge brought by the state of Alaska and commercial fishing interests. The decision upholds a lower court ruling.


The National Marine Fisheries Service in 2011 curtailed fishing after determining the western population of Steller sea lions is nutritionally stressed because they aren’t getting enough to eat.


Julie Speegle with NOAA…


Speegle: “We are pleased that the court of appeals upheld the district court’s conclusion that NOAA Fisheries made approprate decisions under the Endangered Species Act” 


The state and seafood organizations sued, argued restricting fishing is unnecessary when the population is growing.


Environmental groups Oceana and Greenpeace intervened on behalf of the fisheries service. Oceana’s Susan Murray says that Tuesday’s decision is a “victory for healthy oceans.”


Speegle says they look forward to working  with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and stakeholders to complete the pending environmental impact statement that is examining fishery modifications that will support sustainable fisheries and protect endangered Stellar Sea Lions.


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