Stellers Sea Lion Closure of Aleutian Fisheries

Steller's sea lions

The poor endangered Steller’s sea lions are surviving so poorly, and their populations decreasing alarmingly, at the point of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands that the Obama administration is stepping up, and calling for the immediate cease and desist order for the commercial fishing of two very prominent species of fish; the Atka mackerel and the Pacific cod.

This shutdown being proposed by the Obama administration would only hit a small, yet vital portion of Alaska’s largely Seattle-based fishing industry.

However, it is also the latest proof that the sea lions have become a proxy in a heated battle over fishing in Alaska. Both environmentalists and big Industry are keeping their eye on what’s happening to the $1 billion a year pollock industry in the Bering Sea nearby. The fishery there supplies half of the country’s catch of fish.

On Monday the fishing industry expressed their concerns at the rapid and sever proposal put out by the Obama administration. It should be noted however, that this proposal was made in response to a 45 percent drop in the western Aleutians’ sea lion population since 2000. That’s quite a dip in only 10 short years.

The National Marine Fisheries Service wants to have everything closed down and other preventative measures in place by next year.

“What they’ve put on the table today is a head shot for us,” exclaimed counsel for United States Seafood in South Seattle, Dave Wood.