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NOAA Fisheries Begins Western Steller Sea Lion EIS Process


Juneau, AK — NOAA Fisheries is asking for public input as it begins to prepare an environmental impact 
statement, or EIS, on Steller sea lion protection measures for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
management area groundfish fisheries.

The western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions is listed as endangered under the Endangered 
Species Act or ESA. By law, NOAA Fisheries must ensure that the groundfish fisheries are not likely to
result in “jeopardy of continued existence, or adverse modification or destruction of designated critical 
habitat,” or JAM, for these Steller sea lions.

Steller sea lion protection measures have been used to manage the groundfish fisheries since 1999. The 
current protection measures were put into effect in January 2011, after a biological opinion concluded
that primarily Pacific cod and Atka mackerel commercial fishing inpart of the Aleutian Islands may be 
preventing the recovery of the endangered Steller sea lions, and might result in JAM. Atka mackerel
and Pacific cod are important prey species for Steller sea lions.

The analysis in the EIS will determine the impacts to the human environment resulting from the proposed 
action and alternatives to restrict groundfish fishing in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management 
area to ensure the fishing would not likely result in JAM.

“Scoping brings out ideas that help shape what comes through the process,” said Jim Balsiger, Administrator 
for the Alaska Region of NOAA Fisheries. “I hope people take time to send us their written comments, 
including potential impacts and alternatives that should be considered in revising the Steller sea lion 
protection measures.”

NOAA Fisheries intends to work with stakeholders to develop fisheries restrictions that are not likely to 
result in JAM and minimize the potential economic impact on the fishing industry to the extent practicable 
while meeting the requirements of the ESA.

In scoping for the EIS, the agency will accept written comments from the public to determine the issues of 
concern; the appropriate range of management alternatives; and the direct, indirect, and cumulative 
impacts. Instructions for submitting written comments and more detail can be found on the NOAA Fisheries 
Alaska Region Web site at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/sslpm/.

The formal public scoping period will close October 15, 2012.

NOAA, in coordination with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, will conduct public meeting(s) to 
inform the public of the proposed action and alternatives, present issues and potential impacts, and gather 
public comment. These meetings will be announced by notice in the Federal Register and on the website at

Additional information, and the 2010 environmental assessment and biological opinion prepared for the 
Steller sea lion protection measures, are also available at

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the 
ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us
on Facebook , Twitter and our other social media channels. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries in Alaska, 
visit alaskafisheries.noaa.gov or www.afsc.noaa.gov.
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