NMFS recovery plan jeopardize life of sea lions

The recovery plan has many benefits but lacks something, said Brendan Cummings, oceans programme director for the Center for Biological Diversity. According to him the plan does not ask for increased regulation to curtail the Bering Sea fishery, even though it identifies the fishery as a potentially large threat to sea lions in the competition for food.

Of course the plan has nothing to protect sea lions that are disappearing from the islands off San Francisco and fails to indicate effective measure for the effects of climate change. Cummings calls this plan a status-quo plan, not a recovery plan. He added that the sea lions’ habitat is already changing as dramatically as any place on Earth.

The plan has only pointed out the eastern and western populations of Steller’s sea lions in Alaska. As per the plan the recovery for western stock require more than $430 million while the recovery cost for the eastern stock is about $1 million. According to the plan there are no substantial threats to the eastern stock stretching from Southeast Alaska to California.

The sea lions of the area extending from the eastern Gulf of Alaska to the western Aleutian Islands and beyond are listed as endangered. Cummings said the recovery plan provides a strong analysis of the impacts of commercial fishing on sea lions and properly identifies fishing as a significant potential threat.

Cummings also told that NMFS held to that conclusion despite intense pressure from the fishing industry to weaken the link between commercial fishing and the decline of sea lions. The plan says that the current level of fishery-management measures to protect sea lions should be maintained. The plan also contains a programme to assess the impact of commercial fishing, as well as the threat coming from killer whales and climate change — all described as having potentially high impacts on the animals.

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