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Soundings Archive

NMFS Proceeds on Global-Warming-Related Seal Listing Under the ESA
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition under the Endangered Species Act asking the U.S. National Marine Fisheries to list three ice seal species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The three species are ringed (Phoca hispida), bearded (Erignathus barbatus), and spotted (Phoca largha).

On September 4, 2008, NMFS announced its finding that

    “that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action of listing the ice seals may be warranted. Therefore, we have initiated status reviews of the ice seals to determine if listing under the ESA is warranted. To ensure these status reviews are comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding all of these ice seal species.”
The CBD petition is, like the recent polar bear ESA listing, part of NGOs’ global warming strategy. CBD hopes that listing the seals under the ESA will persuade NMFS, or a court, to implement global warming regulatory controls in order to prevent melting of the ice where these seals live. Ironically, one of the three seals proposed for listing—the ringed seal—is the polar bear’s favorite meal.

NMFS requests public comment on these three seal species by November 3, 2008. NMFS specifically asks for the following information:
    “1) Information on taxonomy, abundance, reproductive success, age structure, distribution, habitat selection, food habits, population density and trends, habitat trends, and effects of management on ice seals;

    (2) Information on the effects of climate change and sea ice change on the distribution and abundance of ice seals, and their principal prey over the short- and long-term;

    (3) Information on the effects of other potential threat factors, including oil and gas development, contaminants, hunting, poaching, and changes in the distribution and abundance of ice seals and their principal prey over the short-term and long-term;

    (4) Information on management programs for ice seal conservation, including mitigation measures related to oil and gas exploration and development, hunting conservation programs, anti-poaching programs, and any other private, tribal, or governmental conservation programs which benefit ice seals; and

    (5) Information relevant to whether any populations of the ice seal species may qualify as distinct population segments.”
  • Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice

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