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Draft review of Steller sea lion BiOp issued

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Remember the independent review requested by Alaska and Washington state of the National Marine Fisheries Service biological opinion that linked commercial fishing to the decline in western Aleutian Steller sea lions and served as the basis of a decision to close mackerel and cod fisheries in their range ... which then touched off a lawsuit? Well, the Washington Department of Fish and Game announced last week that the panel has completed a draft of its review. The panel concluded several things, none of which reflect well on the NMFS BiOp. The first of the panel's draft conclusions reads, "The conclusions in the BiOp regarding the finding of jeopardy and its posited cause (nutritional stress from food competition with fisheries) do not follow logically from scientific, economic, and social information presented in the BiOp and attendant documents." Read the entire draft in .pdf form.