Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NOAA lists ringed and bearded ice seal populations under the Endangered Species Act

Date:
December 30, 2012
Source:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Summary:
NOAA Fisheries has announced its final listing decision for four subspecies of ringed seals and two distinct population segments (DPSs) of bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, in line with the proposal, NOAA will list as threatened the Beringia and Okhotsk DPSs of bearded seals and the Arctic, Okhotsk, and Baltic subspecies of ringed seals. The Ladoga subspecies of ringed seals will be listed as endangered. The species that exist in U.S. waters (Arctic ringed seals and the Beringia DPS of bearded seals) are already protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A ringed seal pup peeks out from its protective snow cave near Kotzebue, Alaska.
Credit: Michael Cameron, NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center

NOAA Fisheries announced on December 21, in compliance with a court ordered deadline, its final listing decision for four subspecies of ringed seals and two distinct population segments (DPSs) of bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, in line with the proposal, NOAA will list as threatened the Beringia and Okhotsk DPSs of bearded seals and the Arctic, Okhotsk, and Baltic subspecies of ringed seals. The Ladoga subspecies of ringed seals will be listed as endangered. The species that exist in U.S. waters (Arctic ringed seals and the Beringia DPS of bearded seals) are already protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This science-based listing decision will not result in any immediate restrictions on human activities; however, Federal agencies that permit or fund projects that may affect a listed species must consult with NOAA Fisheries to ensure the existence of the species is not jeopardized. In addition, this listing will have no impact on the subsistence harvest of ice seals by Alaska Natives, a practice that is central to the traditional culture and nutrition in many Alaskan Native coastal communities.

"Our scientists undertook an extensive review of the best scientific and commercial data. They concluded that a significant decrease in sea ice is probable later this century and that these changes will likely cause these seal populations to decline," said Jon Kurland, protected resources director for NOAA Fisheries' Alaska region. "We look forward to working with the State of Alaska, our Alaska Native co-management partners, and the public as we work toward designating critical habitat for these seals."

NOAA will work with local, state and Native partners, as well as the public to help determine whether to propose critical habitat designations for Arctic ringed seals and the Beringia DPS of bearded seals. This decision will happen at a later date, after compiling significant additional scientific and economic data and public input. Earlier this year, the President directed that any future designations of critical habitat carefully consider all public comments on relevant science and economic impact, including those that suggest methods for minimizing regulatory burdens. Any potential future critical habitat designation will include a full analysis of economic impact, including impact on jobs, and will strive, to the extent permitted by law, to avoid unnecessary burdens and costs on states, tribes, localities, and the private sector.

Ringed and bearded seals depend on sea ice and snow to survive. After a comprehensive review of the best available science including climate models developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NOAA has concluded that sea ice and snow cover are likely to further decrease in the foreseeable future resulting in population declines that threaten the survival of these seals.

Ringed seals nurse and protect their pups in snow caves, which are threatened by late ice formation in the fall, rain-on-snow events in the late winter, earlier break-up of spring ice, as well as decreasing snow depths, which are projected to be too shallow for snow cave formation by the end of the century. Both ringed seals and bearded seals rely on sea ice for extended periods during molting, and bearded seals live on sea ice during critical months for breeding, whelping, and nursing. Sea ice is projected to shrink both in extent and duration, with bearded seals finding inadequate ice even if they move north.

NOAA Fisheries proposed the listings in December 2010 and provided opportunities for public input through public comment periods and during public hearings held in Anchorage, Barrow, and Nome. In accordance with NOAA's Policy for Peer Review in ESA Activities, the agency also solicited comments from peer reviewers on each of the proposed rules. In December 2011, NOAA administratively extended the deadline for final listing determinations six months to June 2012 to allow for additional consideration of relevant science and information. In November 2012, the Alaska district court ordered NOAA to respond to a complaint about further delay by December 21, 2012.

The Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as "any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range." A threatened species is "any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range."

The Endangered Species Act requires species listed as endangered to receive the full protection under the Act to prevent extinction, including a prohibition against "take," which includes harassing, harming, pursuing, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting. These protections may also be established for threatened species to prevent them from becoming endangered, but NOAA does not propose pursuing such a rule at this time.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "NOAA lists ringed and bearded ice seal populations under the Endangered Species Act." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121230180804.htm>.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2012, December 30). NOAA lists ringed and bearded ice seal populations under the Endangered Species Act. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121230180804.htm
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "NOAA lists ringed and bearded ice seal populations under the Endangered Species Act." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121230180804.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2014) According to researchers at Albright College, women have the ability to make their voices sound sexier, but men don't. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins