NMFS announces proposed sea lion protections

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The National Marine Fisheries Service is taking public comment on proposed revisions to Steller sea lion protections in the western Aleutian Islands that could lead to more commercial fishing of Pacific cod, pollock and Atka mackerel.

The agency Tuesday released five alternatives for protecting endangered Steller sea lions.

Four alternatives, including the agency’s preferred alternative, would modify restrictions but require additional monitoring and enforcement.

The agency in 2011 closed most fishing in the western Aleutians.

The state of Alaska and fishing groups sued. A federal court judge ruled that the agency had properly put strict protections in place in compliance with the Endangered Species Act but had not provided sufficient public review of the measures.

The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposals starting Friday.