Tag Archives: Center for Biological Diversity

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

Court Finds American Lobster Fishery Requires Incidental Take Statement for Impacts on North Atlantic Right Whale

As commercial fisheries across the United States continue to adjust operations in the face of new legal requirements, such as the shift from single-species to ecosystem-based management, one challenge in particular has dominated the courts: the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recent court decisions have vacated commercial longline fishing permits in federal waters off the coast of California that could endanger the Pacific leatherback sea turtle and restored prohibitions on gillnet fishing gear in a known New England feeding ground for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. This trend continued on April 9, when a federal district court judge in Center for Biological Diversity,,,The American lobster fishery is managed cooperatively by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and NMFS,  >click to read< 14:45

Enviro group says it may sue NMFS and Coast Guard to prevent whale deaths from ship strikes

The Center for Biological Diversity, which has an office in Los Angeles, alleges that the government agencies are ignoring the requirements of the Endangered Species Act in agency consultations, studies and actions such as speed limits in shipping lanes or protecting critical habitat areas. Ship strikes are a leading cause of death and injuries to whales migrating along California’s coast and are more lethal than previously understood >click to read< 16:22

California: Fewer Whales Entangled As Crab Fishermen Face Financial Struggle

Crab fishers are frustrated by recent closures, and CDFW is working with stakeholders and fishermen to come up with an economic plan that can help fishers deal with the changing industry. “We are seeing that the closures affect smaller operators disproportionately,”,,, Dick Ogg is a commercial fisherman out of Bodega Bay, California. His single-boat company is considered a medium-sized operation in the area because he catches many species. In addition to crabbing, Ogg shifts with the seasons to fish salmon, black cod, and albacore as well. This allows him to have income throughout the year. He humbly calls himself a “newbie”, having only been a commercial fisherman for 21 years. >click to read< 07:05

Court: Trump Administration Unlawfully OK’d Longline Fishing Off California

The ruling released late Friday responds to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network after the fishing permit issued in April exempted vessels from the federal ban on longline gear off California. Longlines stretch up to 60 miles, with thousand of baited hooks intended to catch swordfish and tuna.  >click to read< 07:52

NOAA Issues Final Rule to Require Turtle Excluder Device Use for all Skimmer Trawl Vessels 40 Feet and Greater in Length

NOAA originally published a proposed rule in December 2016 that would have required all skimmer trawl, pusher-head trawl, and wing net vessels to use TEDs in their nets. In response to public comment and further deliberation, however, the final rule was revised. >click to read details<, Meanwhile, the enviro groups Plan to Save Sea Turtles From Shrimp Boats Scaled Way Back – “We’re scratching our heads on why this change happened,” said Gib Brogan, fishery campaign manager for Oceana, which sued to get the devices into inshore shrimp nets in NOAA’s Southeast Region. >click to read< 10:20

Dungeness crab fishing season delayed due to whale and sea turtle entanglement risk

Charlton Bonham, director of the Fish and Wildlife department, issued a decision to postpone the start date for California Dungeness crab fishermen south of the Mendocino/Sonoma County line for one week — from Nov. 15 to Nov. 22. The decision was based on data indicating the prevalence of whales in the area. Bonham’s decision to minimize entanglement risk follows a court-approved agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, a Phoenix-based environmental nonprofit that in 2017 sued the wildlife agency,,, >click to read< 16:52

D.C. court rules fisheries remain closed to help right whales

Thursday, a federal district judge ruled two lobster fisheries can remain closed to protect the lives of right whales moving through the area. The case began nearly two years ago as a set of environmental groups Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife and the Humane Society of the United States filed a complaint against the federal government because they disputed the finding of “no jeopardy” to right whales in the lobster fisheries, despite the finding that an average of 3.25 right whales a year would die through gillnet fishing operations. >click to read< 10:31

Dungeness commercial crab season likely to be delayed over risks to whales

California’s state fish and wildlife chief is poised to delay this fall’s commercial Dungeness crab season for eight days under a legal settlement,,,  Bodega Bay fisherman Dick Ogg said he appreciated the unenviable spot Bonham is in and the pressure he is under to avoid taking chances with an endangered species while positioned directly in the lens of a microscope. “You know, he tried to make the best possible decision he could make and still give the fishermen the opportunity to take advantage of the Thanksgiving market,” Ogg said. “It was tough.” >click to read<  14:50

Dungeness crab season may be delayed

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife made the announcement Friday in response to a settlement with an environmental group over whale entanglements in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear.,,, Even if the eight-day delay to the commercial season happens, it should not disrupt the Bay Area tradition of cracked Dungeness crab on the Thanksgiving table, said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. However, it would cut into a peak period for the local fishing fleet, >click to read< 08:02

Feds Tap 300,000 Square Miles of Pacific for Humpback Whales

The proposed rule is the result of a settlement with the National Marine Fisheries Service, who were sued last year for not following through on a 2016 plan to designate two groups of Pacific Ocean humpback whales as endangered and a third group as threatened. The Center for Biological Diversity, joined by Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Wishtoyo Foundation, filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of California claiming the lack of action by the Trump administration violated the Endangered Species Act. >click to read<  16:25

Feds seek expanded habitat protection as salmon, orcas battle climate change, habitat degradation

Advocates for the designation say it provides another layer of review and more legal protection for the whales. “We are thrilled,” said Steve Jones, spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity,,, However, Lynne Barre, head of killer-whale protection for NOAA, said she did not anticipate big changes if the designation is approved after a public comment period, because activities such as dam operations and fishing already are subject to review by the agency for their effect on endangered species. >click to read<  13:32

9 U.S. environmental groups seeking Canadian snow crab import ban, stronger right whale protections

“We do believe that, at this point, at least Canadian snow crab needs to be banned from the United States,” said Sarah Uhlemann, program director of the Seattle-based Center for Biological Diversity. Uhlemann was one of nine conservation groups who signed a letter sent Tuesday to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urging it to “press the Canadian government to immediately strengthen right whale protections, in order to avoid an import ban and to help save the species from extinction.”  >click to read< 07:35

Whale entanglments are down on the West Coast. The reason for the reduction is in question.

According to the NOAA, as of Aug. 23, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported 17 confirmed whale entanglements in 2019, compared to 40 for the same period a year prior.,,, The reason for the sharp reduction in entanglements is in question.,,, Pieter Folkens, a permitted whale disentangler for NOAA, said the Center for Biological Diversity’s claim of victory is premature. He said shortening the crab fishing season had little influence on the number of entanglements this year. >click to read< 11:01

Though impossible to prove, Con group claims early end to crab season helped reduce whale entanglements

Though impossible to prove, the Center for Biological Diversity credited the improvement to removal of commercial Dungeness crab gear from California coastal waters in mid-April, under a legal settlement,,, Sonke Mastrup, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, was less willing to make a definitive connection,,, His boss, agency director Chuck Bonham, had linked the initial spike in entanglements with environmental factors that in 2016 shifted the location of forage fish and whale feeding grounds at the same time that a toxic algae bloom delayed the start of the commercial crab season by 4 1/2 months. The result was that most of the crab fleet had gear in the water at the same time whales came up the coast to feed,,, >click to read< 11:06

Fewer Whales Caught in Crabbing Gear After Settlement, but,,, there’s always that but,,,

The National Marine Fisheries Service reported 18 whale entanglements through Aug. 23, 2019, compared to 40 ensnared whales found during the same period last year. “We are really happy that the numbers are lower this year, but we think there still needs to be progress made on reducing the risk of entanglement,” said Catherine Kilduff, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. >click to read< 09:06

Enviros sue Trump Administration for Failing to Protect Endangered West Coast Orcas

Conservation groups sued the Trump administration today for ignoring a legal petition to protect critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales in the heart of their Salish Sea habitat. Today’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington by the Center for Biological Diversity and Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance (ORCA), follows news that three more of these starving orcas are presumed dead, dropping their population to just 73. >click to read< 18:12

Oregon wants to untangle whales from crab fishery

The number of whales entangled so far this year off Oregon, Washington state and California appears to be down compared to prior years, according to preliminary reports. But Oregon wants to avoid a lawsuit like the one brought against California by the Center for Biological Diversity. That lawsuit, over impacts to whales from commercial fishing activities, settled in March. For now, fishery managers will eliminate a two-week postseason cleanup period in the commercial Dungeness fishery,,, >click to read< 15:57

Leatherback sea turtles likely to go extinct under Trump administration policy, lawsuit argues

Leatherback sea turtles are likely to be “effectively extinct within 20 years” if two new federal permits for fishing off the coast of California go into effect, environmental groups claim in a new lawsuit. In April, the Trump administration granted new two-year “exempted fishing permits” to two California-based vessels in what are currently protected waters.,,, National Marine Fisheries Service,,, the federal agency said the permits “are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.” The longline fishing will have to halt immediately if “one mortality of a leatherback sea turtle is observed.>click to read<14:03

Charter fishing fleet casts wary eye toward possible fishing cutbacks to save orcas

Pacific Northwesterners are undeniably fond of their endangered resident killer whales. Many locals are also fans of salmon fishing, a hobby that sustains charter fishing fleets in coastal harbors from Neah Bay, Washington, to Brookings, Oregon. But now there is a chance future fishing trips on the ocean could be curtailed to leave more food for the killer whales. Regulators are preparing to reassess the Pacific salmon harvest and an environmental lawsuit seeks more action to save orcas. >click to read<