Groups Ready Suit Over Humpback Whale Protection

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Fishing nets are just one of many problems the humpback whale population faces along the Pacific Coast, and a conservation group says the Trump administration is not doing enough to protect the whale’s habitat.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue with the National Marine Fisheries Service over violations of the Endangered Species Act, claiming the federal agency has not designated critical habitat for the whales.

In its notice, the group says the federal agency failed to designate critical habitat for distinct humpback whale populations in Mexico, Central America, and the western North Pacific.

“The Fisheries Service’s failures deprive these imperiled species of important protections and put them at further risk of extinction,” the group says in its notice.

In October, the center sued the state of California claiming fishing lines, crab traps, buoys and other gear endangers whales and violates the Endangered Species Act.

Humpback whales also face trouble from collisions with boats and oil spills, and oil and gas extraction operations in the Pacific Ocean produce noise that can interfere with marine life. Collision with ships caused the deaths of 50 blue whales off the California coast between 2001 and 2010, according to a report from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation joined the center in the notice. They say critical habitat designation is important for the survival of threatened and endangered species.

In 2016, the federal government listed several population segments of the humpback whale as either endangered or threatened. At the time, the Fishery Services said critical habitat was not determinable.

“Over one year later, the Fisheries Service still has not designated critical habitat” for the humpback whale populations, the groups say.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration representative said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

 

 

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