Alaska sues over Aleutian fish restriction

JUNEAU, Alaska, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Alaska Tuesday filed suit over the federal government's plan to limit fishing in the Aleutians in order to maintain the food supply of the Steller sea lion.

The suit says the National Marine Fisheries Service made procedural errors and also failed to make an acceptable connection between the sea lions and the supposed need to limit the commercial fish harvest in the western end of the islands.


Gov. Sean Parnell said in a written statement that entire communities in the area would feel the pinch if the government restricts their access to the fishing grounds shared with the sea lions. The curtailment, he said, could cost Alaska $66 million annually and affect about 900 jobs.

The statement contended that the Steller sea lion has actually been doing quite well in recent years. The population, it said, grew as much as 1.5 percent between 2000 and 2008 and now numbers more than 70,000.

"The drastic measures proposed by NMFS are simply not necessary given the overall health of the Steller sea lion population," said Parnell.

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