Researchers pay for Alaska sea lion intrusion

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) ? Federal authorities say a science consortium has agreed to pay $9,000 for intruding into Alaska waters that are off-limits to protect endangered Steller sea lions.

The group was conducting research near Amchitka Island, where three nuclear underground tests occurred more than 40 years ago. The 2004 study was looking for radionuclide contamination in the marine environment and was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The study director had no immediate comment on the agreement announced Tuesday. He and the lead scientist admitted an incursion into a no-transit zone. They waived rights to a hearing on other counts, including the unpermitted taking of a sea lion by Aleut hunters hired as technicians.

The group is the Nashville, Tenn., Institute for Responsible Management/Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation II.