TASSC is pleased to welcome Gloria Frank as our new Southeast Region Commissioner! Gloria was appointed by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Executive Committee on January 30 of this year.
Gloria is from Hydaburg, Alaska on Prince of Wales Island and is actively involved with marine mammal subsistence and environmental conservation around Hydaburg and surrounding waters.
She is currently working for the Hydaburg Cooperative Association (HCA) in their Environmental office. Monitoring marine mammals is one of her duties at HCA and she has served as a sea otter tagger for many years. She was also trained in the Sea Otter Biosampling Program and coordinated and oversaw two years of skiff surveys of sea otters in the waters around her community. Welcome Gloria!
TASSC’s Annual and Regular Commission Meeting was held in Anchorage April 8 & 9, 2009 at the Alaska Village Initiatives Board Room.
Attendees heard a comprehensive report from TASSC Staff on Program results and upcoming events, and the Commission engaged in a good dialogue with Congressional staff on issues and priorities. Later in the meeting we heard reports from Kate Wynne - UAF Alaska Sea Grant Program, Helen Chythlook - Bristol Bay Marine Mammal Council, Monica Riedel - Alaska Native Harbor Seal Commission, Phil Zavadil - Tribal Government of St. Paul Ecosystem Conservation Office, Lisa Rotterman - National Marine Fisheries Service and our auditors Mikunda, Cottrell and Co.
Elections occurred this meeting and the Executive Committee remains the same:
Please contact us if you would like a copy of information shared at the meeting or if you have any questions.
2009 Alaska Forum on the Environment
Please see our Events Page.
Spring is finally here after a long winter. We are eagerly looking forward to the bounty that spring and summer bring.
Sea lions, it turns out, may do the same thing. This issue we are pleased to highlight several studies on sea lion diet and/or distribution.
One study looks at the relationship between seasonal groupings of prey species and where sea lions go on a seasonal basis. Another study examines diet differences between male and female adult sea lions. We hope you find these as interesting as we do.
More details can be found below.
H.R. 884, the Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments of 2009, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 2, 2009. The Bill was introduced by Congressman Don Young and builds upon protections in the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA).
Marine mammal stranding is addressed by Title IV of the MMPA. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the main federal agency dealing with marine mammal stranding. Under Title IV, NMFS has developed stranding response agreements with individuals and organizations to respond to live and/or dead stranded marine mammals. These individuals form a volunteer stranding network and these are in place throughout the United States. Other components authorized under Title IV include: marine mammal stranding responses and investigations, biomonitoring, tissue/serum banking, and analytical quality assurance.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Act of 2000 amended the MMPA, and the Prescott Grant Program was created. The Program provides grant funding to stranding network members for stranding related activities, including collecting data on live or dead stranded marine mammals, stranding response, and for rehabilitation and treatment of these animals.
H.R. 884 will expand the Prescott Grant Program to include work and rescue response related to entangled marine mammals and their rehabilitation. It also authorizes the development of entanglement response agreements.
When the bill was introduced, Congressman Don Young stated:
The bill has been transmitted to the U.S. Senate and has been referred to the Commerce Committee for further action.
Within Alaska, the National Marine Fisheries Service has an active standing network for marine mammals under its jurisdiction, including seals, whales, sea lions and fur seal. Stranding network members can be found throughout coastal Alaska and can be contacted to respond to a stranded marine mammal. TASSC is a member of this network. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also has a stranding program for species under its jurisdiction: sea otter, walrus, polar bear.
If you are interested in more information on marine mammal stranding response, contact National Marine Fisheries Service or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. You can also call our office and we can provide you with information or get you in contact with the appropriate person or agency.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, through a Prescott Stranding Grant, is working to address the problem of marine mammal entanglement. They have just released a DVD which talks about the different ways that sea lions and other marine mammals can become entangled in marine debris, and more importantly, ways to reduce this threat.
Marine debris that poses an entanglement hazard include anything that forms a loop - packing bands, large black and yellow rubber bands, rope, nets, monofilament line, even wind socks that find their way into the sea.
It also includes fishing gear that may be lost overboard or taken by these marine mammals while fishing (either sport or commercial) including fishing line, flashers, lures, hooks, longline gear, discarded gear and nets. Other marine debris can pose entanglement or health hazards, such as tires, windsocks, or just plain garbage that they might ingest.
Neck entanglements are one of the most common ways that sea lions can become entangled in marine debris. We can all work to reduce marine debris and entanglement, and as they say in the DVD:
For more information on stranding, marine mammal entanglement or if you are interested in a copy of the DVD, contact Lauri Jemison at ADFG via phone at 907-465-8171 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened their comment period on the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the Southwest Alaska Sea Otter. The comment period is open through July 1, 2009.
Comments on the Proposed Rule can submitted at the federal rule making portal at http://www.regulations.gov/ (search for sea otter critical habitat).
They can also be submitted by hand or by mail to:
For more information on the proposed rule, see the USFWS website at: http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/seaotters/criticalhabitat.htm
The notice of the reopened comment period can be found here.
TASSC's comments submitted during the original comment can be downloaded here.
The Service is developing a draft Economic Analysis (EA) on the impacts of designating Critical Habitat, and expect that a notice of availability for the draft EA will be published in the Federal Register in June. There will be a 30-day period in which to comment on the draft EA. The Service is also planning on having a 24-hour "hotline" in which people can call in and submit their comments for the record.
Lastly, the USFWS will be holding a Public Hearing on the Proposed Critical Habitat on June 18, 2009 in Anchorage, Alaska at the Z.J. Loussac Library. There will be an informational meeting from 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM. Verbal comments for the public record will be accepted from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM, and there will be telephonic access, so individuals outside of Anchorage can call in to submit their comments.