NOAA Fisheries announced today that after review, they view the listing of Pacific harbor seals in Iliamna Lake as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act as not warranted. The State of Alaska concurs with this decision.
Julie Speegle is the spokesperson for NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region.
“We found that to be a distinct population segment, the species must be both discreet and significant to the taxon to which it belongs,” Speegle said. “After careful scientific review of the best information available, NOAA Fisheries found that the harbor seals found in Iliamna Lake are discreet from the Pacific harbor seals subspecies, but they are not significant to it. And therefore, they are not eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act.”
This review was conducted in response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity. In their petition the Center raised concern that seals in the lake face threats from “climate change, ocean acidification, and from Pebble Project development.”
Speegle said that while these seals are not protected by the Endangered Species act, they are still protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.