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Environmental Impact Statement for Steller Sea Lion and Northern Fur Seal Research

Steller sea lion
Steller Sea Lion
(Eumetopias jubatus)
Photo: NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory

Northern fur seal
Northern Fur Seal
(Callorhinus ursinus)
Photo: NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory

Steller sea lions
Steller Sea Lion
(Eumetopias jubatus)
Photo: Mike Etnier, NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory

NOAA Fisheries has completed a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Steller Sea Lion and Northern Fur Seal Research. A Record of Decision (ROD) [pdf] was signed on June 18, 2007. The ROD documents the agency's decision to select the Preferred Alternative (Alternative 4: Research Program with Full Implementation of Conservation Goals) as its preferred strategy for the issuance of grants and permits for scientific research on Steller sea lions and northern fur seals.

NOAA Fisheries consulted with its Endangered Species Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in fulfillment of its obligations under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. It is NOAA Fisheries' biological opinion [pdf] [1.6 MB] that the research program, as proposed in the PEIS and ROD, is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the endangered western of Steller sea lion DPS or the threatened Steller sea lion DPS. In a May 24, 2007 letter [pdf] and a June 8, 2007 letter [pdf], the FWS concurred with NOAA Fisheries' determination that issuance of permits as described in the Preferred Alternative of the PEIS was not likely to adversely affect FWS listed species or designated critical habitat.

Final PEIS [pdf] [49.5 MB]

Cover [pdf]
Dear Reviewer Letter [pdf]
Table of Contents [pdf]
Executive Summary [pdf]
Chapter 1 [pdf]
Chapter 2 [pdf]
Chapter 3 [pdf] [7.2 MB]
Chapter 4 [pdf] [1.2 MB]
Chapter 5 [pdf]
Chapter 6 [pdf]
Chapter 7 [pdf]
Chapter 8 [pdf]
Chapter 9 [pdf]
  Appendix A [pdf]
Appendix B [pdf]
Appendix C [pdf] [18.9 MB]
Appendix D [pdf] [3.6 MB]
Appendix E [pdf] [8.9 MB]
Appendix F [pdf] [6.3 MB]

Request for Copies of the Final PEIS
P. Michael Payne, Chief
Permits, Conservation and Education Division
Office of Protected Resources
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
Phone: 301-427-8401

There are two populations of Steller sea lions, and both are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): the western population is listed as "endangered" and the eastern population is listed as "threatened".

There are two stocks of northern fur seals: the Eastern Pacific stock and the San Miguel Island stock. The Eastern Pacific stock of northern fur seals is listed as "depleted" under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

NOAA Fisheries announced its intent [pdf] [61 KB] on December 28, 2005 to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the environmental impacts of issuing grants and permits facilitating research on Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus).

NOAA Fisheries hosted a series of public scoping meetings in Anchorage, AK; Seattle, WA; and Silver Spring, MD. NOAA Fisheries invited the public, including permit holders, researchers and scientists, elected officials, regulatory agencies, environmental groups, native Alaskan tribes, and other interested individuals, to attend the scoping meetings and to provide input on the range of actions, alternatives, and impacts that should be considered in the EIS.

The Draft PEIS was distributed on February 16, 2007 and available for comment through April 2, 2007. NOAA Fisheries also held a series of pubic hearings during the 45-day comment period to solicit comments on the Draft PEIS.

Draft Cover [pdf]
Draft Dear Reviewer Letter [pdf]
Draft Table of Contents [pdf]
Draft Executive Summary [pdf]
Draft Chapter 1 [pdf]
Draft Chapter 2 [pdf]
Draft Chapter 3 [pdf] [4.9 MB]
Draft Chapter 4 [pdf] [1.2 MB]
Draft Chapter 5 [pdf]
Draft Chapter 6 [pdf]
Draft Chapter 7 [pdf]
Draft Chapter 8 [pdf]
Draft Chapter 9 [pdf]
  Draft Appendix A [pdf]
Draft Appendix B [pdf]
Draft Appendix C [pdf] [131.1 MB]
Draft Appendix D [pdf] [63.0 MB]
Draft Appendix E [pdf] [3.4 MB]
Draft Appendix F [pdf] [16.3 MB]
Draft Appendix G [pdf] [6.2 MB]
Draft Appendix H [pdf]

A Notice of Availability [pdf] of the Final PEIS was published in the Federal Register on May 11, 2007. NOAA Fisheries was required to wait 30 days from that date before signing the ROD or implementing the selected alternative. This 30 day "cooling off" period closed on June 11, 2007.

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