A Seattle federal judge agreed yesterday to allow the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement its own restrictions on fishing in waters considered critical habitat for the endangered Steller sea lion, whose population has dropped 80 percent since the 1970s. The judge lifted his own injunction banning trawl fishing in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, which came about after environmentalists filed a lawsuit in August asking for NMFS to impose tougher rules on fishing for cod, pollock, and mackerel. Greenpeace said the NMFS plan confirmed the group’s contention that the harvesting of groundfish by factory trawlers was depleting the sea lion’s food supply. The fishing industry, meanwhile, criticized the NMFS rules as onerous and said the science was still unclear about what is causing the sea lion’s decline.

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