NOAA Fisheries is removing the eastern population of Steller sea lions from the list of endangered or threatened species. In a written statement NOAA Fisheries says the scientific review of the sea lion population shows that the eastern population segment has met the recovery criteria included in the recovery plan first implemented in 2008.
This is the first species NOAA has delisted due to recovery since the eastern North Pacific gray whale was removed from the list in the mid-90’s. The 2010 population estimate was over 70-thousand sea lions. That’s way up from the 1979 estimate of just over 18-thousand animals. Steller sea lions were first listed as threatened in 1997 and the western population segment will stay on the endangered species list.
The eastern population segment includes Steller sea lions from Cape Suckling south to the Channel Islands in California. As part of the delisting NOAA has created a post-delisting plan that will be place for the next 10-years. NOAA confirms that the delisting of the eastern Steller sea lion population will take effect 30-days after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.