Byline: Associated Press/Mark Thiessen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The eastern population of the Steller sea lion will be taken off the threatened species list, a federal agency announced Oct. 23.
The sea lions, whose range stretches from Alaska’s Panhandle to California’s Channel Islands, are the first animal to be delisted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 19 years.
The last animal delisted was the eastern North Pacific gray whale, which was taken off the threatened list in 1994, NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle said.
The agency earlier this year recommended delisting the eastern population of the Steller sea lions, an action sought by the states of Alaska, Washington and Oregon. Commercial fishermen also protested fishing regulations because of the listing.
“While they are being removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, they are still provided a good measure of protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” Speegle said.
When an animal is delisted, the Endangered Species Act requires a monitoring plan that covers five years. NOAA has decided to double that length of time to monitor the sea lions.
The delisting becomes effective 30 days after a notice is published in the Federal Register.