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Soundings Archive

NMFS Agrees to Rule on Ringed, Bearded and Spotted Seal ESA Status
On September 25, 2009, a federal judge approved a court-settlement settlement requiring the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to decide whether the ringed, bearded and spotted seals need to be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The settlement resolves litigation against NMFS brought by the NGO Center for Biological Diversity.

The settlement requires NMFS to decide whether ESA listing is warranted for the spotted seal by October 15, 2009, and for ringed and bearded seals by November 1, 2009.

CBD claims that climate change endangers the seals by melting the sea ice on which they depend for rest and reproduction. The CBD press release for the settlement claims that "global warming is wreaking havoc on the Arctic ecosystem.... An entire ecosystem is rapidly melting away, and we risk losing not only the ice seals but the polar bear and walrus as well if we do not take immediate action to address global warming."

CBD also claims that ESA "listing of the seals would not affect subsistence harvest of these seals by Alaska natives, which is exempted from the law's prohibitions."

  • Click here to read CBD's press release about the settlement

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