Murkowski Critical of “Texas-Sized” Ring Seal Designation
Senator Sees Announcement Placing Awareness Above Scientific Data
Senator Lisa Murkowski expressed strong concerns over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed rule to designate approximately 350,000 square miles as critical habitat for ringed seals. The massive area (pictured below) would extend from Cape Avinof in Northwest Alaska to the Canadian border, covering the entire North Slope coastline. NOAA’s justification admits several non-scientific reasons motivated its decision, such as “enhanced public awareness” and that the proposed designation “may help focus and contribute to conservation efforts.”
“This is an unprecedented attempt to place restrictions on a larger than Texas-sized area of water surrounding our state. I remain skeptical that the listing of ringed seals based on a 100 year weather projection was justified, and I am concerned that this designation would severely impact any economic development from Northwest all the way to our border with Canada.”
NOAA acknowledges that the proposed designation would likely result in restrictions on oil and gas activities, marine transportation, port development and commercial fishing.