Subject: Fisheries: Environmental groups challenge (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 17 Apr 1998 13:23:31 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 98 16:17:00 GMT 
Subject: Environmental groups challenge

Environmental groups challenge U.S. on sea lions

    SEATTLE (Reuters) - Environmental groups  Wednesday filed a
lawsuit charging that the federal government has mismanaged the
fisheries of the north Pacific Ocean, causing "precipitous
declines" in sea lions and other species.
     The lawsuit contends that the National Marine Fisheries
Service has done nothing for five years to protect the habitat
of the western Steller sea lion, despite a continuing population
decline that led the government to reclassify the species as
endangered last year.
     According to the lawsuit, filed by the Sierra Club,
Greenpeace and American Oceans Campaign, the federal government
has permitted aggressive fishing tactics that are depleting
groundfish populations in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska,
with catastrophic effects on predator seabirds and mammals.
     "Despite these precipitous declines in multiple species,
... the defendants have not comprehensively and publicly
evaluated the fisheries' impacton these ecosystems for nearly
two decades," said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in
     The western population of Steller sea lions has declined
from 230,000 in 1965 to 43,000 in 1995 and is considered in
danger of extinction, according to the lawsuit.
     Barbara Jeanne Polo, political director of American Oceans
Campaign, said the decline of the Steller sea lion is an
indicator of a much larger problem.
     "We want the fishing to be done in an ecosystem management
way that will sustain the fishery over time," she said. "We
know all these communities depend on fish. So do the Steller sea
lions. If they all disappear there won't be any for the
fishermen either."