Subject: sea lion:Agency lists Steller sea lion (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Sun, 4 May 1997 09:28:03 -0400 (EDT)

J. Michael Williamson
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
   Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri,  2 May 97 11:47:00 GMT 
Subject: Agency lists Steller sea lion

Agency lists Steller sea lion as endangered

    By Yereth Rosen
     ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuter) - Citing faltering populations
and poor reproduction in western Alaska, the National Marine
Fisheries Service said Wednesday it will list the Steller sea
lion as endangered.
     The announcement came seven years after the Steller sea lion
was listed as a threatened species, and after an environmental
organization threatened to sue NMFS for failing to impose the
new protections.
     The animal is considered to be in danger of eventual
extinction, so the endangered listing was anticipated, said Jon
Lewis, the Steller sea lion recovery coordinator for NMFS.
     He attributed delays in the endangered listing to past
beliefs that the decline had "bottomed out."
     "There was hope, I think, that we were going to see a
turnaround. That was hopeful optimism," he said.
     According to the most recent NMFS surveys, the population in
the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea fell to 22,167 in 1996 from
the 27,286 counted in 1992.
     That followed a two-thirds decline in the Alaska population
in the late 1980s.
     An April 1 notice from Greenpeace that it planned to file a
lawsuit to compel the endangered listing prompted the NMFS
action, Lewis said. "That certainly got the attention of the
agency," he said. The endangered listing was scheduled to go
into effect in June, he said.
     Steller sea lions, which grow to 1,000 pounds, gather in
coastal rookeries, where they rest, sun themselves, breed and
launch forays for food. They eat Alaskan pollock and other fish.
     The precipitous declines have occurred in the vast region
where the nation's largest commercial seafood harvests are
conducted. Greenpeace has blamed the sea lion decline on
overfishing. The Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska are sites of the
huge harvests for Alaskan pollock and other bottom-dwelling
whitefish species.
     Fishing industry officials dispute the charges. They point
out that their harvests target adult pollock, not the juveniles
eaten by sea lions.