"To Help Sea Lions, NOAA Restricts Fishing"

"To protect the declining population of the western Steller sea lion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will restrict commercial fishing for Atka mackerel and Pacific cod, the animal’s main source of food, off parts of the Alaska’s western Aleutian Islands.

The decision, announced on Wednesday, comes as the agency mulls whether to remove the closely related eastern Steller sea lion from the threatened and endangered species list.

Scientists with NOAA said they were acting because the adult populations in some areas of the western Aleutians had declined by as much as 45 percent between 2000 and 20008, with a probable cause being a shortage of food. A light brown, reddish or almost blond sea lion may commonly weigh 1,500 pounds (males) and eat about 6 percent of their body weight daily in fish."

Leslie Kaufman reports for the New York Times' Green blog December 9, 2010.

Source: Green (NYT), 12/10/2010