Alaska's fishing industry will soon know if more restrictions might be imposed to protect sea lions in prime fishing grounds.
In mid-November federal fishery scientists will unveil a draft biological opinion on proposed changes to rules for fishing fleets in parts of the Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea.
When Western Alaska stocks of Steller sea lions were listed as a threatened species in 1990, fleets were barred from dropping their nets and hooks from three to up to 20 miles from haulouts, rookeries or other critical habitat for sea lions. By law, managers were required to craft a plan to aid in the animals' recovery.
The draft opinion will incorporate all new research from the past five years, said Doug DeMaster, director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Juneau.
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