Murkowski: Steller Sea Lion Decision Validates Push for Science-Based Policy

Senator Vindicated for Efforts to Compel NOAA to Listen to Independent Experts

Senator Lisa Murkowski today welcomed the news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that it has determined that Aleutian Island groundfish fisheries do not pose harm to the western population of Steller sea lion or its habitat. The new Biological Opinion (BiOp) incorporates recent scientific date that shows that commercial fishing was not jeopardizing the western populations of Steller sea lions.  Murkowski has urged NOAA for years to consider external reviews from the Center of Independent Experts panel – both through a letter to the Secretary of Commerce (attached) and by adding language to the 2014 Commerce, Justice and Science budget requiring that:

NOAA shall report to the Committee on how the agency is incorporating the findings of the Center of Independent Experts (CIE) panel into a revised BiOp or other relevant management documents.”

Senator Murkowski responded to the news by saying:

“It is critical that data-based policies that impact Alaskans be based on science and rigorous analysis, and I would like to thank NOAA for listening to the Center of Independent Experts in issuing the new biological opinion.  This means increased fishing opportunities in the Aleutian Islands in 2015 and the end of restrictions that resulted in tens of millions of dollars per year in economic harm to fisherman and Alaska’s coastal communities.”