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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


May 17, 2011
Contact: Contacts: Bill Tweit, (360) 902-2723 (Washington)
Doug Vincent-Lang, (907) 267-2339 (Alaska)

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Scientific panel will meet in Seattle
to review BiOp on Steller sea lions

OLYMPIA - Fish and wildlife scientists from Washington and Alaska will meet June 2 in Seattle to discuss the scientific basis of new federal fishing restrictions designed to protect Steller sea lions in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea.

The meeting, which will include opportunities for public comment, will start at 9 a.m. in the Stockholm Room of the Swedish Cultural Center at 1920 Dexter Ave. N.

Last November, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a biological opinion (BiOp) on the western stock of Steller sea lions that has placed significant restrictions on groundfish fisheries in the North Pacific Ocean.

At the upcoming meeting, a panel of scientists appointed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) will hear testimony from other scientists and members of the public on NMFS's findings as part of an independent review of the federal BiOp.

A second public meeting is scheduled Aug. 1 in Anchorage, after the four-member scientific panel is scheduled to release a draft report and recommendations.

The co-chairs of the scientific panel are:

  • David R. Bernard, Ph.D., co-chair of the panel representing Alaska. Dr. Bernard is a fisheries scientist and biometrician with over 30 years of post-graduate experience in commercial and recreational fisheries. A former faculty member at Oregon State University and a former employee of ADFG, he is a co-chair of the Sentinel Stocks Committee for the Pacific Salmon Commission.
  • Steven Jeffries, the Washington co-chair, is a research scientist and marine mammal specialist for WDFW. He has worked on marine mammal issues for over 30 years with a focus on harbor seals, California sea lions, Steller sea lions and sea otters. He is also a member of NOAA's Pacific Scientific Review Group.
  • Dr. Andrew Trites is a professor and director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit in the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. His main area of research is the interaction between marine mammals and fisheries. He directs the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium and holds a BSc from McGill University, and an MSc and a Ph.D from UBC.
  • Dr. Gunnar Knapp is a Professor of Economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, where he has worked since receiving his Ph.D in Economics from Yale University in 1981. For the past thirty years Dr. Knapp has been continuously engaged in research on fisheries management, seafood markets, and the Alaska economy.

Panel members prefer that comments be submitted in writing and summarized in a five-minute oral presentation at the meeting. The address for submitting written comments is posted on WDFW's website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/steller_sealions/). Comments will be accepted through Aug. 1 and should address the panel's Terms of Reference, which are explained on the website.