Fishing groups sue over sea lion protection

January 8, 2011 

UNALASKA -- Alaska seafood organizations are suing to stop a ruling by the National Marine Fisheries Service that would protect fish on which the endangered Steller sea lions feed.

Alaska Public Radio Network reported the ruling by the fisheries service has closed an area to fishing Atka mackerel and Pacific cod.

The Alaska Seafood Cooperative fishes in the closed area, and takes about 90 percent of its Atka mackerel quota.

Linda Larson, an attorney for the cooperative, said the ruling is misguided and unfairly blames overfishing for the decline of the Steller sea lion population when other factors might be to blame.

Larson said the cooperative doesn't view the situation as a "conservation emergency."

The fisheries service said it had to close the area to be in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

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