Tag Archives: Center for Biological Diversity

California: Closure of commercial fishery causes seafood price increase

Two humpback whales became entangled in Dungeness crab gear near the Monterey Peninsula within the last two weeks, leading to the closure of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery,,, “It’s pretty devastating because the best crabbing here is generally in the springtime,” said Morro Bay commercial fisherman, Bill Blue. This suspension isn’t helping, especially during their most profitable season. “It’s a pretty unjust thing. It’s all political. It has nothing to do with saving the whales. The shipping industry kills a lot of whales. Video, >click to read< 10:26

Maine lobster industry fights lawsuit that aims to shut down fishery

While Maine’s lobster industry has been fighting an offensive legal battle against impending rules to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales, it also is playing defense in a case brought by environmentalists that seeks to shut down the lobster fishery entirely. Lobster industry groups are intervening in a case brought in Washington, D.C.’s U.S. District Court by the Center for Biological Diversity and other plaintiffs that argues the new federal restrictions aren’t adequate, and that the fishery’s continued operation poses an existential threat to the whales. >click to read< 19:15

Gulf of Maine: Lawsuits over North Atlantic right whale regulations coming to boil

Lobsterman Brian Cates lives so far at the edge of Maine he can look out the windows of his house and see Canadian boats out in Canadian waters. Cates and other New England lobstermen are worried about how the coming regulations issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service will affect their livelihoods. Cates fishes in disputed waters. There, around the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, there’s a strip of ocean claimed by both Canada and U.S. alike called the grey zone. Cates fishes up against Canadian lobstermen, their traps and lines often getting caught up on one another. And the rules coming down from the federal government are not helping, >click to read< 19:14

Crabs vs. Whales – Fracas over pop-up crab traps dangles Dungeness season in the balance

On multiple occasions sources for this story referenced being intimidated, scared and even worried about “getting shot” for their role in seeking a solution to California’s crab gear challenges. And it isn’t limited to one side. People take their livelihoods and their whales seriously. But amid the fear there is hope. Geoff Shester leads the parade on that front. He works with conservationist outfit Oceana as its senior scientist, and he’s very enthusiastic about how innovative new crab trap designs,, Longtime fisherman Dick Ogg,,“We’ve minimized interaction,” he says. “We’re on the right track, we’re doing the right things and those things are working really well. We’ve already solved the issue. How is this fair?” >click to read< 10:33

COVID-19 saves right whales by sinking cruise ships

Canada created the Shediac ship restricted zone in April 2020 just a couple weeks before Holland America’s Zaandam was scheduled to sail through that zone on a shipping lane used only seasonally by cruise ships as a shortcut to Quebec City. However, a COVID-19 no-sail order in March 2020 superseded that restriction. Consequently, there was not one Canadian ship right whale strike death in two years and only one Canadian crab entanglement death,,, Zero whales were killed by lobster gear. There has not been one death from lobster gear in the U.S. and only a couple in Canada in over 20 years but the Center for Biological Diversity, with no supporting data, claims the whales are going extinct based on lobster entanglements. >click to read< By Jim O’Connell 07:31

North Atlantic Right Whale: Extinction Is Looming. Everyone’s Fighting.

This May, new rules created for the lobster industry by the National Marine Fisheries Service will become official policy for boats operating in right whale territory. The agency estimates that lobster and Jonah crab traps are responsible for 95 percent of vertical end-line ropes in the areas where whale protections apply and therefore pose the most risk for entangling whales. The Fisheries Service says these changes will reduce the risk of death and serious injury by 69 percent. But in the months after the rules were finalized, the agency has seen pushback from conservation groups, who argue the new protections aren’t enough, and lobster fishing crews, who say the rules will harm their business. >click to read< 14:22

Lawsuit filed to Protect Pacific Humpback from fishing gear, Can lawsuits save North Atlantic Right Whale?

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the National Marine Fisheries Service today for failing to protect endangered Pacific humpback whales from deadly entanglements in sablefish pot gear off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. According to Fisheries Service estimates, the sablefish fishery on average kills or seriously injures about two humpback whales every year. The fishery uses 2-mile-long strings of 30 to 50 pots. >click to read< Can Litigation Help Save the North Atlantic Right Whale From Extinction? – As conservation organizations and governments around the globe grapple with the devastating effects of climate change and overexploitation, the legal battle fought over the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered large whale species, may provide insights into how litigation can help, or hinder, efforts to save species from extinction. >click to read< 13:41

Shortened Dungeness crab season reflects industry uncertainty

Commercial crabbers have made quick work of this year’s Dungeness crab harvest, bringing substantially fewer crustaceans ashore with each lift. The haul has been so meager that even those who ply the waters south of Mendocino County,,, Closures and major catch restrictions in Alaskan crab fisheries, where king and snow crab stocks have plummeted, has heightened demand this winter for the Dungeness crab caught off Central and Northern California. “The thing that’s saving us is the price,” said Dick Ogg, “We’re down to two or three crabs per pot,” said Bodega Bay fisherman Tony Anello, one of many getting ready to pack it in. (Then the conversation of ropeless fishing begins,,,) >Click to read<Campaigners say ropeless technology could spare whales in the Firth of Forth >click to read< 09:28

Maine: Whale rules, pending lawsuits focus of gloomy Lobster Advisory Council meeting

A complicated and potentially grim future is predicted for the commercial lobster industry, with environmental groups, gear changes, the closure of offshore waters to lobster fishing and judicial rulings painting a “doom and gloom” picture, in the words of Department of Marine Resources  Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “I think there’s going to be a lot of moving pieces,” Some of those pieces could spell the end of the commercial lobster fishery in Maine, DMR Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson said, as she ran through the current lawsuits aimed at preserving the North Atlantic right whale. If any or all prevail, the lobster fishery will bear the brunt of the results. >click to read< 08:12

Judge rejects efforts by feds, enviro’s to impose immediate restrictions on lobstering

Last month, Justice Lance Walker sided with the Maine Lobstering Union and granted a temporary injunction to stop a new federal closure of a roughly 960-square mile area off the Maine coast. The federal agencies appealed that decision and asked for an emergency “stay” of the order, contending the closure is essential now to protect endangered right whales. On Friday, Justice Walker denied that request, meaning the area remains open to fishing. >click to read< 16:10

Feds, con groups file appeal to reinstate seasonal lobstering ban

In their appeal, the federal government and the conservation groups, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Defenders of Wildlife, argue that not only did the National Marine Fisheries Service use the best available science, but also that the lobstering groups did not present any actual evidence of the “certain economic harms” the judge referenced. Also in the appeal, the groups claim that the plaintiffs’ criticism of the availability and quality of data to support the restrictions is misplaced.  The fisheries service admitted that more data would be beneficial to refine the agency’s understanding of right whale distribution, but it argued that the data already available is sufficient. >click to read< 08:02

Richard “Max” Strahan attempted to intervene in right whale case with court injunction

An animal rights activist made a late attempt to try and stop the industry from being allowed to use vertical buoy ropes.  Richard “Max” Strahan tried to intervene at the beginning of the month in the federal right whale court case that holds the future of the lobster industry in its hands, but the activist’s attempt was rejected by a judge less than a week later.  Strahan filed his motion on May 8 and claimed that the only way the industry would stop using the ropes is by a court-ordered injunction. >click to read< 16:03

Taking a Pause – Ropeless fishing gear bill gets put on hold

The legislative push for ropeless gear in the Dungeness crab fishing industry is taking a pause after the Assembly bill’s author was sworn in as California’s 34th attorney general. Authored by Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) in collaboration with Social Compassion in Legislation and the Center for Biological Diversity, the bill argued that fishermen use antiquated trapping gear that harms marine life. California Coast Crab Association President Benjamin Platt said the Center for Biological Diversity “lobbied hard to find somebody else to carry that bill. Platt calls the pause on the Whale Entangle Prevention Act a “David and Goliath moment for California fishers.” >click to read< 07:46

North Coast crabbers line up against bill mandating ropeless gear, AB 534

A coalition of crab industry associations across California has issued a letter opposing a state Assembly bill mandating all fishing fleets switch to ropeless fishing gear by 2025. The coalition of the state’s major fishing industry groups sent the letter opposing Assembly Bill 534, or the Whale Entanglement Prevention Act, this week to its author Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and the Assembly’s Water and Parks Committee members who will vote on the legislation. The Crescent City-based California Coast Crab Association sent the letter, also signed by Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association President Harrison Ibach. >click to read< 11:35

Bill 534 could eliminate whale entanglements, hurt (destroy) the crab fishery

The Whale Entanglement Prevention Act introduced on Feb. 10 proposes that trap fisheries such as the crabbing industry use ropeless gear by Nov. 1, 2025,,, Authored by Rob Bonta-D California, in collaboration with Social Compassion in Legislation and the Center for Biological Diversity, Assembly Bill 534 argues that crabbers use antiquated trapping gear that needlessly harms marine life. California Coast Crab Association President Bejamin Platt said the industry has been against ropeless gear because it’s not cost-effective the current price for the gear is more than $1,700.  >click to read< 15:37

Humboldt County crabbers opposed to ropeless gear bill, the Whale Entanglement Prevention Act

A bill recently introduced to the California State Assembly is expected to deliver a blow to the ailing crab fishing industry,,, Assembly Bill 534, or the Whale Entanglement Prevention Act, was written and introduced to this state chamber by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) on Feb. 10 and is sponsored by the environmental organizations Center for Biological Diversity and Social Compassion in Legislation. The proposed legislation would require Dungeness crab fishing operations to only use ropeless gear by Nov. 1, 2025. >click to read< 22:50

This Year’s Dungeness Crab Fishery a Shell of its Former Self

Enviros sue for North Atlantic Right Whale protections from ship strikes

Four conservation groups filed an injunction in a Washington, D.C., court last week asking the National Marine Fisheries Service to expand its efforts to protect right whales and their calves from being hit by ships. Although entanglement in fishing lines gets a lot of headlines, ship strikes have emerged as a prime killer of the right whales, whose numbers have dropped from a peak of 481 in 2011 to 356 this year. Eleven calves, including two that were spotted Wednesday off Amelia Island, Florida, so far this calving season are not accounted for in that estimate. >click to read< 09:50

Emergency Petition! Awaiting Court-Ordered Help, Enviro’s Want Ban on Some Lobster Traps, pushing newer ropeless traps

“We filed this petition because it is an emergency situation,” Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity,,, Monsell and colleagues brought a lawsuit against the federal government in 2018, challenging how it has managed lobster fishing and arguing for better right whale protections. In April, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to issue new regulations by the end of May of 2021. In the interim, the petitioners say it’s necessary to ban vertical lines. That could happen without banning lobster fishing outright, since newer, ropeless traps don’t pose the same risks to the whales. >click to read< 07:12

Emergency Petition Seeks to Protect Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales From Fishing Gear>click to read<

Today, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, along with our coalition partners,,, >click to read<

California crabbing rules a concern says North Coast fisherman

Local crab fisherman Mike Cunningham said he’s spoken with fishermen across the West Coast who take issue with the new rules. “We always look to avoid entanglements with whales,” Cunningham said. “The biggest problem (with the new rules) is that they are talking about closing massive areas to fishing. You could have an entanglement problem near Monterey, and the director (of Fish and Wildlife) could close the waters from Monterey up past Humboldt.” There are six fishing zones along the state’s coast. “The director now has the authority to do anything at any time,” Cunningham said. “Now, sometimes, it may just be a fleet advisory or warning, but it could go all the way to closing the entire coast to crab fishing.” The new rules stem from a lawsuit filed against the state by the Center for Biological Diversity, settled in 2019, >click to read< 19:48

Judge hears lawsuit over fish farms in Puget Sound

Whether Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to raise native steelhead at fish farms in Puget Sound is a simple business transition or a complex threat to the marine ecosystem is being debated in King County Superior Court. Judge Johanna Bender heard testimony Thursday over Zoom in a lawsuit environment groups brought against the state Department of Fish & Wildlife for granting a permit to the seafood company to raise steelhead. “Did the department make a mistake in comparing the impacts of one type of stock to another, as opposed to comparing it to Puget Sound without fish farming at all?” she said.,, , the state Legislature passed a law that phases out Atlantic salmon net pen aquaculture by 2022 >click to read< 15:48

Boasberg sets deadline for new North Atlantic Right Whale Protections no later than May 31, 2021

The Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife and the Humane Society of the United States sued the federal government for violating the Endangered Species Act by allowing the lobster fishery to operate in a manner known to entangle right whales. U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg also ordered a new ESA-mandated analysis of the American lobster fishery that takes into account the full scope of its harm to right whales. He stopped short of prohibiting lobster fishing with vertical buoy lines in a key right whale feeding area, which the groups had requested as an interim measure. >click to read< 07:15

Judge: Lobstering can proceed until new right whale protections are finalized in May – The right whale protection lawsuit winding its way through the federal courts for two years has often been called the “wild card” in the battle between environmental groups trying to save the critically endangered whale from extinction and Maine lobstermen trying to protect their way of life. >click to read< 17:24

California plans to protect whales from crab traps rankle all sides – one thing was clear, no one’s happy.

Stakeholders on both sides of the aisle had complaints — environmentalists don’t think the protections go far enough, while industry groups say the regulations threaten the economic viability of the crab fishing industry. Set to take effect Nov. 1, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) will serve as the primary mechanism for mitigating entanglement risk to humpback and blue whales and leatherback sea turtles whose populations are endangered and could suffer additional casualties due to getting caught in Dungeness crab fishing gear. The regulation would replace the interim authority given to the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife,, >click to read< 09:13

Crab Command and Control – California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group

“Whales getting entangled in fishing gear is a huge crisis,” says John Mellor, a commercial fisherman and a member of the working group since its inception. “It has to be dealt with, and dealt with in real time.” Once or twice a month during Dungeness crab fishing season, which normally runs from November 15 to July 15, scientists in the working group conduct a series of mini research projects looking at four risk factors for entanglements: how many whales and sea turtles are around, where whales are likely to forage, the number and locations of recorded entanglements, and information about fishermen, including their landing data, license numbers, and the locations of their traps. >cxlick to read< 08:35

Judge James Boasberg’s court ruling puts future of Maine lobster industry at risk

United States District Judge James Boasberg’s order found that the National Marine and Fishery Services violated the Endangered Species Act by licensing the lobster fishery. In the second phase of the case, the judge will decide what action is necessary to rectify the situation. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association, an intervenor, and other industry stakeholders around the Gulf of Maine, will submit information for the judge to consider in his ruling.,, Activist Richard Strahan filed a motion in federal court in Bangor to stop fishing in Maine May 15, citing violations of the Endangered Species Act, Maine Public reported. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has no intention of curtailing lobster permits, said spokesperson Jeff Nichols. >click to read< 09:45

Lawsuit Challenges Trump OK of Commercial Fishing in Atlantic Marine Monument

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. by the Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity and Zack Klyver, lead naturalist with the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company in Maine. “Trump’s order was illegal because he can’t just declare commercial fishing is allowed in a protected marine monument,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Seamounts monument was created to permanently safeguard this amazing ecosystem and vulnerable species like the endangered sperm whale. Presidents can’t be allowed to gut protections by decree as a favor to commercial fishermen.”  >click to read< 11:40

Con groups propose total lobster fishing ban

According to the Center for Biological Diversity and several other plaintiff conservation groups, the area “has increasingly become important right whale foraging and socializing habitat in recent years. The conservation groups filed their request last Friday, three weeks after the judge ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) violated the federal Endangered Species Act when it continued to allow lobster fishing with gear that used fixed vertical buoy lines in which whales could become entangled. As a practical matter, a ban on the vertical lines that connect traps on the sea floor to marker buoys on the surface would amount to a total prohibition against lobster fishing in the area south of the two Massachusetts islands. While scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a few others have experimented with “ropeless” lobster trap gear (laughter and scorn, erupts from the crowd),,, >click to read< 09:18

New rules for California Dungeness crab fleet

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday unveiled a batch of complex new rules designed to reduce the risk to endangered whales and sea turtles of becoming entangled in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. The draft regulations are set to be finalized before the next commercial season starts in November after a period of public review. Among the provisions are options to restrict fishing in certain depths, require crabbers to set only a share of the traps for which they’re permitted or limit intervention to any of six newly established geographic zones, rather than the larger Northern and Central California management districts that currently exist. >click to read< 09:14

Crab fishing industry not canceled yet, but,,,

Humboldt County’s crab fishing season will remain open for now, unlike fisheries south of the Sonoma and Mendocino counties line, which have been ordered to close on May 15. An ongoing settlement agreement allows the season to be ordered closed when there’s too high a risk of whales becoming entangled in fishing gear. For now, the North Coast has been spared of closure, though a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flags one humpback whale, which beached at Samoa in October 2019. The whale later died. Overall, the report indicates California had 17 whale entanglements in 2019, down from 34 the year before. >click to read< 21:46

North Atlantic Right whale trouble: Lawsuit on protections could last for months

Environmental groups sued the U.S. government with a claim that regulators’ failure to protect the North Atlantic right whale from harm was a violation of the Endangered Species Act, and U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled April 9 that they were right. The government, environmentalists and industry members who are involved in the lawsuit must still return to court to determine a remedy. Boasberg ruled that the risk posed to the whales by the lobster fishery was too great to be sustainable, and that a remedy could ultimately result in new restrictions on lobster fishing. Members of the industry, including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, have vowed to fight to protect the fishery. >click to read< 11:27