The Straits Times
Published on Dec 22, 2012

Ice-dwelling seals to get US Endangered Species Act listings


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (REUTERS) - Two species of far-north seals, victims of disappearing sea ice and dwindling snowpack in their Arctic habitat, will be granted protections under the Endangered Species Act, federal officials announced on Friday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ordered "threatened" listings for populations of ringed seals and bearded seals in the waters off northern Alaska, in parts of Russia and other regions of the Arctic.

Both types of seals depend on sea ice and snow, which is becoming scarce in the Arctic region during the non-winter months, NOAA officials said in a written statement.

"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 the Alaska region of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.