SEAFOOD.COM NEWS, June 12, 2012
By John Sackton

NMFS has announced an independent peer review panel contracted through the Center for Independent Experts (CIE) to consider the November 2010 biological opinion on the impact of groundfisheries on steller sea lions. The opinion, which was used to justify further closures in the Western Aleutians that impacted the cod fishery and other fisheries, such as Atka mackerel, was widely criticized. Many outside experts felt the conclusions of the Bi-OP were not supported by the data presented.

The review meeting will be held August 1st and 2nd, at which time presentations will be made on relevant scientific information that has become available since NMFS issued the Final Biop. NMFS requests that parties interested in presenting such information to the CIE reviewers submit a statement of interest including an abstract of the information to be presented.

The seafood industry, the North Pacific Research Council, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Pollock Conservation Council, Cascade Fishing, NOAA and others have collaborated on new methods to monitor Steller Sea Lions, using small unmanned aircraft that can be launched from a boat. This gives a low cost and effective means to monitor populations in a much more robust manner than the old surveys, that depended on manned airplanes and putting scientists on the beach.

Watch the new video just released on the project, hosted and produced by Abundant Oceans.