Courtroom showdown coming in Steller case

Deckboss is sure you've not forgotten that the state as well as a big segment of the Alaska fishing industry are suing the National Marine Fisheries Service.

At issue are commercial fishing restrictions NMFS put into place this year along the Aleutian chain to protect the endangered Steller sea lion.

The state and the industry argue the restrictions are unnecessary, and don't reflect sound science.

Each side has filed reams of paper arguments in the case.

Now opposing lawyers are preparing to duel in person before federal Judge Timothy Burgess of Anchorage. According to this order from the judge, oral argument will begin at 1 p.m. Dec. 21.

This hearing could be crucial in deciding a case in which fish harvests worth millions of dollars are at stake — not to mention the credibility of NMFS and the well-being of the Stellers.