Endangered Whales Need Immediate Action
Conservation and animal protection groups filed a lawsuit Oct. 31 asking a federal court in Massachusetts to hold the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) accountable for continuing to allow four federal fisheries to injure and kill endangered whales, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
Each year, endangered whales become entangled in commercial fishing gear. Entanglement makes it harder for them to swim, feed and reproduce and it can cause a chronic infection or even drowning.
Already, 2011 has seen the death of two right whales from entanglement, as well as at least seven additional new entanglement reports for right whales. Since June alone, eight endangered humpback whales have been reported with first time entanglements.
“Every single right whale counts when it comes to ensuring the species’ survival, but the fisheries service continues to place whales at risk of injury and death,” said Sharon Young, marine issues field director for The Humane Society of the U.S. “Safeguarding the right whale from entanglements in fishing gear is a vital step towards moving this species out of the emergency room and onto the path to recovery.”
“The fisheries service is well aware that North Atlantic right whales need better protections, yet it is allowing these fisheries to continue to operate without them,” said Sierra Weaver, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “The fisheries service needs to take immediate action to put protections in place to make the fisheries safer. If they don’t act now, we will see the extinction of the right whale in our lifetime.”
“In an increasingly busy ocean, the survival and recovery of the North Atlantic right whale depends on protecting each individual from entanglement-related injuries and deaths,” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, senior biologist for Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
- The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered large whales, with an estimated population of less than 400 individuals. In fact, the NMFS has previously stated that the “loss of even a single individual may contribute to the extinction of the species.”
- NMFS has cited entanglements in commercial fishing gear as one of the most significant threats to the right whale’s survival and recovery. Yet, almost every year since 2002, at least one entangled right whale has been found dead or so gravely injured that death is deemed likely.
- In addition to right whales, fishing gear used by the American lobster, northeast multispecies, monkfish and spiny dogfish fisheries continues to injure and kill endangered humpback, fin and sei whales.
- The lawsuit was filed by Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in the federal district court for Massachusetts.
See what Defenders of Wildlife is doing to make waters safer for critically endangered right whale by clicking here.
For more information, click here.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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