“The seals need all the help that they can get,” she said by phone from San Francisco.
The development, however, is bittersweet, she said. While the Obama administration has acknowledged the threat, not enough is being done to limit greenhouse gas pollution behind the loss of sea ice, she said.
The NOAA Fisheries decision affects four subspecies of ringed seals around the world. Arctic Ocean seals off Alaska’s coast and seals on the Okhotsk and Baltic seas were listed as threatened. A subspecies in Lake Ladoga in northwest Russia was listed as endangered.
The listing covered two subspecies of bearded seals: the Beringia population, which includes Alaska, and bearded seals in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Designation of critical habitat for the seals will be considered later.
The agency said the listing decision will not mean any immediate restrictions on human activities.
It does mean that federal agencies that issue permits or pay for projects that might affect a threatened species must consult with NOAA Fisheries to make sure activities do not jeopardize the animals.
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