"Protected Habitat Proposed For Rare Alaska Whale"

"ANCHORAGE -- Over 3,000 square miles (7,770 sq kms) in Alaska would be protected as critical habitat for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, under a proposal issued on Tuesday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The area would encompass more than a third of Cook Inlet, mostly the northern portion off Anchorage, including shallow areas where the whales spend summer days feasting on salmon and smelt and nursing their infants.

It also overlays areas heavily used for commerce, including oil and gas production, commercial shipping, fishing and municipal wastewater discharge.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell said he would fight the designation."

Yereth Rosen reports for Reuters December 3, 2009.

Source: Reuters, 12/03/2009