JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed creating critical habitat sites to protect humpback whales that will extend to waters off Alaska.

The Juneau Empire reported Sunday that the habitats are focused on the feeding areas of groups of humpback whales and include the area off Juneau.

A fisheries service official says the critical habitats designation only affects federal activities and does not establish sanctuaries or preserves.

The official says the proposed changes would not affect recreational activities or private lands.

The habitats cover 175,182 square nautical miles (600,857 square kilometers) of the traditional feeding areas of three of the 14 major humpback whale populations.

Officials say the groups feed in Alaska and California waters in the summer and spend the other months near Mexico, Central America and Taiwan.

Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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