(Anchorage, Alaska; July 21, 2003) – A memorandum of understanding signed in June marks an effort headed by Crowley Maritime Corporation, Yutana Barge Lines and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the spectacled eider (somateria fischeri), listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout its range. The agreement seeks to minimize the impact of commercial vessels on the spectacled eiders that molt in eastern Norton Sound.
Eastern Norton Sound is the primary molting ground for many spectacled eiders, including females that breed on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Spectacled eiders that breed on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta have undergone a population decline of more than 96 percent since the 1970s.
Crowley and Yutana agreed to avoid travel into or through a 239-square-mile area of eastern Norton Sound, which includes the core molting area, during the period of Aug. 1 through Oct. 31. During late summer and into fall, the eiders become flightless and struggle to feed on enough nutritious foods to replenish the enormous amount of energy required to replace feathers and keep warm.
The two companies also agreed to implement annual training programs for vessel crews and supervisors to teach bird avoidance methods that will minimize disturbance to the eider and to allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to board vessels and observe their commercial activity when in the eiders marine habitat. Each company will provide an annual report to the service on the success of the agreements implementation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to provide Crowley and Yutana with maps and other information relating to timing and location of concentrations of the eider. The Service also agreed to assist with employee training by providing training materials and leading training seminars.
Oakland-based Crowley Maritime Corp., founded in 1892, is primarily a family- and employee-owned company engaged in worldwide logistics, liner services, contract towing and transportation, energy support services, ship assist and escort services, vessel management and petroleum and chemical marine transport. Additional information about Crowley, its subsidiaries and business units may be found on the Internet at www.crowley.com.
Yutana Barge Lines has been in continuous operation on the Yukon River since 1916, and has been active on the west coast of Alaska since 1971. Yutana operates 10 tugs and 22 barges, and specializes in shallow draft, direct delivery barge service throughout Western Alaska.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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