The impact of Russian fishing fleets on the Steller Sea Lion currently is unknown—but the U.S. government is aiming to find out. Consequently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week issued Request for Proposals (Solicitation #NMFS_RFQ_AKR110607G) seeking contractors capable of carrying out such a study in Russian waters of the Western Bering Sea. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service hopes to identify the mortality rate of the sea lions related to Russian fishery practices in that region.
According to background information in the RFP:
Steller sea lions are listed as threatened (eastern stock) and endangered (western stock) under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Steller sea lions range across the North Pacific Ocean rim from Japan, Russia, and in the USA from Alaska to central California. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), through its groundfish observer program, conducts research on the interaction between Steller sea lions, other marine mammals, and sea birds, and the U.S. groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
A base-year contract will be awarded from the date of the award to Sept. 30, 2012, with an Oct. 1, 2012–Sept. 15, 2013, option period.
NOAA did not provide an estimated cost of the project.