Appeal Decision Upholds Steller Sea Lion Protections

The Ninth Circuit Court in Seattle has upheld protections
for endangered Steller sea lions in the western Aleutian Islands, denying a
motion for rehearing filed by the state of Alaska and Alaska fisheries industry
The decision stems from the National Marine Fisheries
Service implementation in 2011 of new protections to address steep declines in
the population of Steller sea lions in the Western Aleutians, after a five-year
consultation process.
Michael LeVine, Pacific senior counsel for Oceana, an
environmental non-profit dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, praised
the court’s Oct 16 decision, calling it “a good day for Steller sea lions.” LeVine said the order validates again “what scientists and courts have told us for more than 20
years – we can and must make more sustainable choices about how we take fish
from the ocean.”
The state and two segments of the fishing industry had challenged
the protections implemented by NMFS in court.
The state and industry members appealed to the Ninth Circuit
Court after the district court upheld the protections, while requiring the
agency to prepare an environmental impact statement now in progress.

The plaintiffs then moved for rehearing and on Oct. 16, the
court denied that motion.