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National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Regional Office

Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures

Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures in the Alaska Groundfish Fisheries

Steller sea lionsSteller sea lions. Photo: JJ Vollenweider, NOAA Fisheries.

NMFS uses Steller sea lion protection measures (SSLPM) to insure the groundfish fisheries off Alaska are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the western population of Steller sea lions or adversely modify their critical habitat. The management measures disperse fishing over time and area to protect against potential competition for important Steller sea lion prey species near rookeries and important haulouts.

Effective for the 2015 fishing year, NMFS implemented a comprehensive suite of Steller sea lion protection measures. The protection measures apply to vessels fishing in the Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, and pollock fisheries in the Aleutian Islands. Steller sea lion protection measures regulate fishing by applying a combination of closed areas, harvest limits, and seasons that reduce fishery competition for Steller sea lion prey when and where Steller sea lions forage.

2015 Protection Measures

  • News Release: NOAA to implement Steller sea lion protection measures for Aleutian Islands fisheries
  • Final regulations to implement Steller sea lion protection measures to insure that groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area off Alaska are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions or destroy or adversely modify their designated critical habitat. Effective December 26, 2014.
    • Proposed Rule to implement Steller sea lion protection measures. Comment period through August 15, 2014.

Harvest Limits

The final rule, in conjunction with existing regulations, establishes harvest limits by sector, area, and season for the Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, and pollock fisheries in the Aleutian Islands. Each year, NMFS publishes these harvest limits in the harvest specifications.

Litigation


NMFS provides this Small Entity Compliance Guide to satisfy the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, which requires a plain language guide to assist small entities in complying with this rule. This synopsis provides a general overview as a public service. For exact regulatory language, please refer to the federal regulations at 50 CFR 679.


Analyses

  • Final EIS - Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures for Groundfish Fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, May 2014
  • 2014 Biological Opinion - Authorization of Alaska groundfish fisheries under the Proposed Revised Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures, Section 7 Consultation, April 2014
  • Biological Opinions - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Groundfish Fisheries Section 7 Consultations
  • Historical Analyses

VMS Requirements

Federally permitted vessels that use trawl gear to harvest groundfish in the Aleutian Islands must set their vessel monitoring system (VMS) to transmit the vessel location at least 10 times per hour.


Closed Areas and Maps

NMFS has designated 100,286 square kilometers as critical habitat for Steller sea lions in the Aleutian Islands. NMFS has established 3nm No Groundfish Fishing Sites.

Fishery Restrictions: