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NOAA Extends Comment Period for Western Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures Rule


Juneau, AK — NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is extending the comment period for the interim final rule to reduce commercial fishing for groundfish stocks in the Aleutian Islands. The objective of the rule is to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of or adversely modify critical habitat for the western distinct population segment of Steller sea lion.

The original public comment period for the interim final rule ends Wednesday, January 12, 2011. NOAA’s Fisheries Service filed with the Federal Register today a notice extending the public comment period for an additional 45 days, to February 28, 2011.

NOAA Fisheries published an interim final rule on December 13, 2010, to implement Steller sea lion protection measures to restrict primarily Atka mackerel and Pacific cod harvests in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. Atka mackerel and Pacific cod are important prey species for Steller sea lions, and this action reduces potential competition for prey between Steller sea lions and the groundfish fisheries. A notice correcting errors in the interim final rule was published on December 29, 2010.

The comment period occurred over the holiday season, limiting the number of work days available to the public for developing a response to this action. At the request of and to provide adequate time for various stakeholders and other members of the public to comment on the interim final rule, NOAA Fisheries has decided to extend the public comment period for an additional 45 days, to end on February 28, 2011.

Send comments to Dr. James W. Balsiger, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-BA31, by any one of the following methods:
•     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
•     Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
•     Fax: (907) 586–7557.
•     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

The comment period extension notice and additional details on how to comment are available at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/stellers/protection.htm

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