NOAA to fix "flaws" in sea lion removal progam

NOAA Fisheries said today it won’t seek further review of the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision that, in effect, requires the agency to revise its current authorization for Washington, Oregon and Idaho to trap and kill California sea lions. Sea lions have for years been foraging every spring for salmon and steelhead below the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam. A lower federal court upheld the agency’s authorization, but the appeals court overturned that opinion last November.

The fisheries agency said it believes the Ninth Circuit decision gives it sufficient flexibility to fix what the court described as “flaws.”

The agency said resolving the conflict between a robust population of California sea lions and Endangered Species Act-listed salmon and steelhead is a high priority.

NOAA Fisheries added that it would take into consideration its responsibilities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the recommendations of an independent task force that recently met to advise on the lethal-removal program’s effectiveness over the past three years, with the goal of completing its new determination by early spring.