Steller Sea Lion (west of 144º)
Due to concern over the dramatic decline of Steller sea lions in Alaska, in 1990, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) took emergency actions to list the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Following this emergency listing, Steller sea lions were temporarily placed on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The emergency listing gave NMFS the time needed to complete a normal status review and later that year, NMFS proposed listing the Steller sea lion as threatened under the ESA. In November of 1990, the final rule was passed and the Steller sea lion was permanently added to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
In 1993, NMFS designated critical habitat for Steller sea lions. Then in 1995, NMFS proposed reclassifying Steller sea lions as two distinct population segments, one west of 144ºW longitude and one east of 144ºW longitude. In 1997, NMFS passed the final rule dividing the sea lions into two distinct populations and listing the western population as endangered under the ESA while maintaining the threatened status for the eastern population. NMFS published a final rule to delist the eastern population of the Steller sea lion in November 2013.
In addition to being listed under the ESA, Steller sea lions are a “strategic stock” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and listed as depleted. NMFS has implemented rules that prevent entry in areas around rookeries. NMFS has also passed measures to reduce competition between Steller sea lions and commercial fisheries.
For general information on Steller Sea Lion, see the Steller Sea Lion species profile page.