Sunflower Sea Stars under consideration for ESA listing

NOAA Fisheries has scheduled two public hearings in Alaska in May on the agency’s proposal to list sunflower sea stars, one of the largest sea stars in the world, as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Their numbers, once estimated at several billion individuals, experienced a major decline from 2013 through 2017 due to Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. Sunflower sea stars, which are considered important to maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem, can be found from northern Baja California, Mexico, and north to the Aleutian Islands

The hearings are scheduled for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 2 at the Best Western Kodiak Inn in downtown Kodiak, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 10 at the Petersburg Borough Assembly Chambers in Petersburg. The teleconference number for both hearings is 888-790-2053, and the conference code will be 2314303.

Each hearing is to begin with a presentation by NOAA Fisheries on the proposed listing. Then the public will have an opportunity to provide oral comments from the record either in person or via the teleconference line. NOAA Fisheries will also accept written comments at the hearing, which will be recorded. The hearings are to close 15 minutes after public testimony ends and after responding to any clarifying questions from participants about the proposed rule.

Those unable to participate in the public hearings in person or by teleconference may submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA-NMFS-2021-0130-0038 by clicking on the comment icon, completing the required fields, and entering or attaching their comments.

Comments may also be submitted by mail to Dayv Lowry, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region Lacey Field Office, 1009 College St. SE, Lacey, WA, 98503.

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The deadline for comments is May 15.

If you have any questions about these two scheduled public hearings, contact Sadie Wright of NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region at [email protected].

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