The scientists' draft report is posted for review on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/steller_sealions/.
A public meeting has also been scheduled Aug. 22 at 9 a.m. to discuss the panel's findings at the Anchorage Hilton hotel, 500 West Third Ave.
The panel of four marine scientists was assembled by WDFW and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) to review the scientific basis of a biological opinion - or "BiOp" - issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) last year.
Both state agencies have questioned the scientific evidence underlying the BiOp, which served as the basis for closing or curtailing fisheries for cod and mackerel in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea this year.
"Rather than just argue with the federal action, the two states agreed to assemble a distinguished panel of scientists to conduct an independent review," said Bill Tweit, Columbia River/Distant Waters Policy Lead. "The key word here is `independent' - we won't actually see the panel's draft report until it is available to the public."
Scientists appointed to the panel are David R. Bernard, Ph.D, co-chair of the Sentinel Stocks Committee for the Pacific Salmon Commission; Steven Jeffries, a WDFW research scientist and marine mammal specialist; Andrew Trites, Ph.D, director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia; and Gunnar Knapp, Ph.D, a professor of economics at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
The panel is scheduled to release its final report in fall.