Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NMFS Extends Comment Period on Proposed Fishing Restrictions in Far Western Aleutian Islands

Comment Period for Western Steller Sea Lions Protection Measure Rule Pushed Back 45 Days

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is extending the comment period for the interim final rule to reduce commercial fishing for groundfish stocks in the far western Aleutian Islands. The original public comment period for the interim final rule ends tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011). Today, NMFS filed a notice with the Federal Register to extend the public comment period for an additional 45 days to February 28, 2011.

NMFS claims the fishing restrictions in the far western Aleutian Islands are necessary to protect food sources for endangered Steller sea lions. However, Governor Parnell and a number of commercial fishing groups say NOAA's response is too drastic and that the agency's conclusion isn't supported by the best available scientific information. The State of Alaska filed a lawsuit last month in an attempt to stop NMFS from implementing the restrictions. Earlier this month, several commercial fishing groups also filed suit.

The original comment period occurred over the holiday season, limiting the number of work days available to the public for developing a response to this action. Various stakeholders and members of the public requested more time, so NOAA's Fisheries Service filed for the extension.

For more details, click on the headline of this post to see the press release.

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