From: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Published October 16, 2009 11:08 AM

Spotted Seals near Alaska Denied NOAA Protection

NOAA’s Fisheries Service announced yesterday that two of three populations totaling more than 200,000 spotted seals in and near Alaska are not currently in danger of extinction or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. The announcement follows an 18-month status review.

However, NOAA is proposing to list a third smaller population of 3,300 seals off China and Russia as threatened.

"The northern two spotted seal populations exceed 200,000 individuals. We do not predict the expected fluctuations in sea ice will affect them enough to warrant listing at this time," said Doug Mecum, acting administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service Alaska region.

Spotted seals have three distinct populations. The 100,000-strong Bering Sea population segment lives near Kamchatka and in the Gulf of Anadyr in Russia and in the eastern Bering Sea in United States waters. Another distinct population segment of roughly 100,000 seals has breeding populations in both the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. The southern-most population of about 3,300 seals is centered in Liaodong Bay, China and Peter the Great Bay, Russia.

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The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental organization, petitioned to have spotted seals listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2007, expressing concern for the species’ habitat from climate warming and loss of sea ice.

Article continues: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20091015_spottedseal.html

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