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Soundings Archive

NGO Intends to Sue NMFS Over Ribbon Seal and Climate Change
On March 31, 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity told the U.S. National Marine Fisheries service that CBD intends to sue NMFS for "denying necessary protections under the Endangered Species Act for the ribbon seal despite clear scientific evidence that the species is threatened by global warming." CBD's notice of intent to sue is a prerequisite for actually filing suit under the relevant federal statutes. CBD has to wait 60 days after the date of its notice before it can file suit in federal court. The idea behind this statutory notice period is to provide the agency time, if it wishes, to provide CBD the relief CBD seeks, therefore mooting the law suit. NMFS has not yet given any indication that it intends to provide this relief.

The ribbon seal is an ice-dependent species of the Bering, Chukchi, and Okhotsk seas off Alaska and Russia. CBD contends that the seal "is threatened by global warming and the consequent loss of its sea-ice habitat, as well as recent decisions to open its habitat to oil development."

In December 2008, NMFS rejected CBD's regulatory petition to list the ribbon seal under the Endangered Species Act. CBD recently described NMFS' decision as

    "a parting shot from the Bush administration, emblematic of the disregard for science under that administration, and it must be reversed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cannot take a head-in-the-sand approach to global warming while Arctic species like the ribbon seal slide toward extinction.
    ***
    "Listing the ribbon seal under the ESA is an important litmus test for the Obama administration and will indicate whether they will depart from the Bush administration's denial of science and lack of action on global warming."
  • Click here to read CBD Press Release and Notice of Intent to Sue

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