A US court held Tuesday that a federal agency had acted appropriately in imposing limitations on commercial fishing in certain sub-regions of the Pacific Ocean that play host to an endangered population of sea lions, thus rejecting claims brought by Alaska and representatives of the fishing industry challenging the restrictions.
According to a profile on the Stellar sea lion published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the US federal agency charged with protecting the nation’s marine life, they are the largest member of the eared seal family, with males weighing up to 1,120 kg. (2,500 lbs.) and measuring up to 3.4 m. (11 ft.) in length. They tend to range between light blonde and ginger in color, and are known for their “impressive low-frequency vocalizations,” akin to roars. The Stellar sea lion’s diet is rich in sea life lower on the food chain than itself, including an array of fishes (salmon, cod, etc.), octopus, and more.
Stellar sea lions – also known as northern sea lions – are found along coastlines throughout the North Pacific – from Hokkaido, Japan to Russia’s Kuril Islands and Okhotsk Sea, the Bering Sea, the Aleutian Islands, and from Alaska on down the West Coast of Canada and the US to California. They are divided into two distinct population segments – Eastern and Western. The Eastern segment includes those populations residing along the pacific coasts of Canada and the US mainland, as well as in southeast Alaska. The Western segment includes those in Japan and Russia, as well as those living in the Aleutian Islands and the central and western Gulf of Alaska.
The Eastern segment has been classified as threatened, and the Western segment (Western Stellar sea lions) as endangered. According to the NMFS, a species is classified threatened if it will likely become endangered within the foreseeable future. More....