May 25, 2006
"A multi-stakeholder recovery team has been working on this Plan for a long time, and we are very pleased with the outcome at this point," said Doug Mecum, NOAA Fisheries Service Alaska Region's Acting Administrator. "We're hoping that individuals with additional information will send us their comments, so we can continue toward the process of finalizing this important Plan."
The Plan highlights three actions that are especially important to the recovery program: (1) maintain current fishery conservation measures (or their equivalent protection); (2) design and implement an adaptive management program to evaluate fishery conservation measures; and (3) continue population monitoring and research on the key threats potentially impeding sea lion recovery.
NOAA Fisheries Service established a new recovery team in 2001 to develop a strategy for the recovery of the endangered and threatened populations of Steller sea lions. The recovery team was composed of 17 members representing fishery and marine mammal scientists, the fishing industry, Alaska natives, and environmental organizations. The recovery team reviewed the latest scientific and management information available, and developed recommendations for NOAA Fisheries Service. After five years in development, the recovery team approved the revised Plan with unanimous endorsement by the 17 team members.
In addition, the Plan underwent a generally favorable peer review by five independent scientists and managers with expertise in recovery planning, statistical analyses, fisheries and marine mammals. Many of their comments have been addressed in this draft plan.
The Draft Recovery Plan, required by the Endangered Species Act contains:
The Steller sea lion was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act on April 5, 1990 due to substantial declines. In 1997, the Steller sea lion was split into a western distinct population segment (DPS) and an eastern DPS. At this time, the western DPS was uplisted to endangered status due to persistent declines, while the eastern DPS remained threatened. Surveys in both 2002 and 2004 showed an increase in the western DPS of about 3% per year, the first increase in the population since the 1970s. The western DPS is currently about 44,800 animals. The eastern DPS is currently between 45,000 and 51,000 animals, and has been increasing at 3% per year for about 30 years.
The public comment period ends July 24, 2006. The Notice of Availability published in the Federal Register is available at www.fakr.noaa.gov.
Send comments to Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources Division, Alaska Region, NOAA Fisheries Service, Attn: Ellen Walsh. Comments may be submitted by:
On the Web: