Having been at that cleaning station several times there is always one or more seals hanging around waiting for an easy meal of scraps. For practical purposes there is no difference between dropping a carcass in front of a waiting seal and what Nelson did in terms of habituating them to people as a food source.

What was different was that he, Nelson, was making a point about the proliferation of pinnipeds and their documented predatory impact on salmonids. In my opinion NOAA's actions are more about the public criticism than the deed of leading a seal astray.

NOAA's actions are actually counter-productive in that they have resulted in a continuation of the story with more publicity and negative feelings about NOAA and the heavy hand of the Government. Furthermore, it perpetuates the reality that NOAA/NMFS is (still) doing nothing to reduce pinniped predation in Puget Sound despite growing scientific evidence of its magnitude of that predation on ESA listed Chinook and ESA listed SRKW which feed on the Chinook.
Remember to immediately record your catch or you may become the catch!

It's the person who has done nothing who is sure nothing can be done. (Ewing)