By Matt Lorch
The federal government on Wednesday announced it is removing the eastern Steller sea lion found along the Washington state coast from the Endangered Species Act — the first species NOAA has delisted due to recovery since the Pacific gray whale was taken off the list in 1994.
This sea lion species is found along the coasts of northern California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, according to NOAA Fisheries.
“We’re delighted to see the recovery of the eastern population of Steller sea lions,” said Jim Balsiger, administrator of NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Region. “We’ll be working with the states and other partners to monitor this population to ensure its continued health.”
NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has concluded delisting is warranted because the species has met the recovery criteria outlined in its 2008 recovery plan and no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the act.
Steller sea lions were first listed as a threatened species under the ESA in 1990. In 1997, NOAA scientists recognized two distinct population segments of Steller sea lions: a western and an eastern segment. The eastern segment includes Steller sea lions from Cape Suckling, Alaska, south to California’s Channel Islands. The western population segment remains classified as endangered. NOAA is not proposing any changes to the status of the western Steller sea lion.
On June 29, 2010, NOAA Fisheries provided notice that it was initiating a status review of the eastern Steller sea lion and requested public comment. More....