Quantcast

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Whales, Sea Turtles From Drowning in Drift Gillnets

Popular
Marcia Moreno-Baez / Marine Photobank

Oceana filed a lawsuit in federal court in California late Wednesday challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have protected endangered species, including whales and sea turtles, and taken an important step forward in efforts to clean up one of the nation's dirtiest fisheries—drift gillnets targeting swordfish off California. The rule would have required an immediate closure of the fishery if limits on the injury or death of nine protected species were reached.


"The withdrawal of this important protection for whales, sea turtles and other species is plainly illegal," said Mariel Combs, Oceana's Pacific Counsel. "The law requires the Fisheries Service to respect the Fishery Management Council's expertise in managing fisheries, including reducing bycatch."

In September 2015, the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council approved a new regulation requiring strict limits, called hard caps, on the injury or death of fin, humpback and sperm whales; leatherback, loggerhead, olive ridley and green sea turtles; short-fin pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins. These high-priority species are most at risk from entanglement in the mile-long drift gillnets that target swordfish off California. In addition to providing strict limits on the catch of non-target species (bycatch), the proposed rule provided an incentive to change behavior in the fleet to further reduce bycatch of other ecologically, recreationally and commercially valuable species, and to switch to cleaner fishing methods such as deep-set buoy gear or harpoon gear. There are approximately 20 vessels operating in the drift gillnet fishery. From 2004-2017 the fishery discarded 61 percent of its catch.

"Drift gillnets are a dirty and unsustainable way to catch swordfish," said Combs. "Incremental steps, like limits on bycatch, are important tools to help move toward cleaner fishing. The Fisheries Service has supported these measures in the past, and its change of course is both disappointing and illegal."

The National Marine Fisheries Service originally agreed with the council's recommendation. The agency representative at the council voted in favor of the bycatch caps in September 2015 when the council took final action. In October 2016 the agency published a proposed rule to implement the caps. Then, on June 12 the agency reversed course and withdrew the rule. The government's decision to withdraw the rule rejects a years-long stakeholder-driven process before the council. This process allowed all interested parties—fishermen, state wildlife departments, environmental groups and California residents—an opportunity to be heard.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Supply boats beside Aberdeen Wind Farm on Aug. 4, 2018. Rab / CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump doesn't like wind turbines.

In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less