Today, The HSUS, along with our partners at the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, filed a legal complaint against the federal government for failing to protect North Atlantic right whales from painful and deadly entanglement in fishing gear.
There are only about 450 North Atlantic right whales left, which makes these 50-foot-long creatures among the rarest large mammals on the planet. The slow-reproducing species has been in decline for years, and – alarmingly — a variety of human-related factors resulted in the deaths of another 20 or so animals in 2017 alone. Without more aggressive efforts to stop or mitigate human-caused threats, experts warn that these whales will be functionally extinct by 2040.
Much to our dismay, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has failed to consider the full impacts of the American lobster fishery, which uses heavy, entangling lines on their gear that can be lethal to the whales. That’s the reason for our litigation, filed today, which asserts that NMFS’ approval and management of the American lobster fishery violates the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The type of gear used in lobster and similar fisheries—in which heavy traps are submerged and attached by rope to floating marker buoys—is particularly prone to entangling whales. Entanglements alone are responsible for about 85 percent of all diagnosable right whale deaths. Entanglement in fishing gear can not only result in immediate death from drowning, but can also cause the whales to die over a period of time from injuries, infections, and starvation, and can inhibit whales’ ability to reproduce.
Female whales, in particular, continue to die at an unsustainable rate as a result of fatal strikes by large vessels and entanglement in commercial fishing gear. In some recent years, only a single calf has survived.
This is not the first time The HSUS has taken action to protect this critically endangered species from a variety of threats. The HSUS and its partners filed a lawsuit in 2008 and a legal petition in 2012, that resulted in regulations mandating reduced ship speeds in high-risk areas to protect right whales from deadly collisions. The groups sued the government in 2010 and 2014, resulting in expansion of the species’ protected critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. And our previous entanglement lawsuits have resulted in regulations to mitigate the harm caused by certain types of fishing gear.
Just last year, The HSUS and HSI also sent a letter to the Canadian government, urging it to take action to reduce entanglements and ship strikes that have been increasing in Canadian waters.
Given the grave state of the North Atlantic right whale population, both the U.S. and Canadian governments must take immediate action if there’s any long-term hope for this whale species to survive. With today’s filing in court, we hope to assure that effective measures will be imposed in key habitat areas for this extraordinarily imperiled species.
After purging thousands of Animal Welfare Act inspection reports and violation notices that used to be available to the public and were searchable online, the political operatives who took over at the U.S. Department of Agriculture a year ago say they now want to turn over federally funded inspections of puppy mills, roadside zoos, and . . .
Last week, the city of Poulsbo, Washington, became the 250th locality in the United States to enact a law prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores, unless the animals are sourced from shelters or rescues. Cities, towns, and counties of all sizes and demographics are registering their concerns about the national epidemic . . .
Breaking news: HSUS sues USDA for brazen maneuver to hurt farmers and nix federal farm animal welfare rule
Today, The HSUS is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture for working to scuttle the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule – one of the most important rules to ever come out of a federal agency, affecting the well-being of tens of millions of animals each year. The USDA finalized the rule in January 2017, . . .
We take in thousands of animals at our wildlife rehabilitation facilities each year, but to me, the creature we took in a few weeks ago looked like no one who’d ever passed through our gates. At the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in San Diego County, California — one of the direct-care centers directly affiliated . . .
The movement to end the use of wild animals in circuses secured its biggest win yet, with New Jersey lawmakers, in the waning days of their lame duck session, voting nearly unanimously yesterday to ban almost all wild animal acts in the Garden State. Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and Sen. Raymond Lesniak sponsored the bill that . . .
Today, the world’s largest pig producer, Smithfield Foods, announced more progress in its movement away from confining mother pigs in tiny gestation crates, further acknowledging that animals built to move ought to be allowed to move. As a matter of historical import, our quest to rid the industry of these inhumane contraptions got an enormous . . .
HSUS’s successful lawsuit to protect Great Lakes wolves may hold key to restoring protections for Yellowstone-area grizzlies
Thanks to skillful work that exposed the government’s shoddy science and its inattention to the legal standards of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), we’ve been able to maintain federal protections for wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin by winning two key cases in a U.S. District Court and a federal appeals courts. One effect . . .
With weather systems delivering punishingly low temperatures – along with ice, snow, and wind – deaths from the cold cycle are mounting, including animal victims. Heartbreaking images on social media, of dogs left outside and frozen, are almost too much to bear. Yesterday, People.com reported a gut-wrenching story of a black lab mix in Illinois . . .
California, again, ranks as the nation’s most humane state, while the Dakotas, Mississippi at bottom of list
According to our Humane State rankings for 2017, California remains the most humane state in the nation, comfortably ahead of number-two finisher Oregon and then Massachusetts, which has held the third position since 2016 when it approved a sweeping measure to restrict factory farming and to forbid the sale of veal, pork, and eggs if . . .