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Soundings Archive

NGOs Threaten to Sue NMFS over Blue Whales
On November 19, 2009, Friends of the Earth, Environmental Defense Center, Pacific Environment, and the Center for Biological Diversity sent the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service their notice of intent to sue NMFS for the agency's alleged failure to implement the 1998 Blue Whale Recovery Plan. The NGOS can sue NMFS in Federal court if the agency does not take their demanded actions within 60 days of receipt of the intent-to-sue notice. Then the merits of their complaint would be determined by the court.

Among other allegations, the NGOs claim that

    "the recovery plan mandates that the Fisheries Service identify and implement methods to eliminate or reduce blue whale mortalities from ship strikes. The agency has failed to take this required action for more than a decade, despite the deaths of at least five blue whales from ship strikes in Southern California in 2007, as well as two additional ship strike mortalities along the California coast in October 2009."
The NGOs claim that increasing ship traffic and increasing ship strikes pose a survival hazard to the blue whales, and that NMFS has a duty to protect them:
    "'Recovery plans serve as the primary 'road map' of actions necessary to both protect and recover our nation's most imperiled wildlife species," stated Brian Segee, staff attorney with the Environmental Defense Center. 'The blue whale deaths in October again demonstrate that it is long past time for the Fisheries Service to carry out the Blue Whale Recovery Plan's mandate to implement measures that will eliminate or minimize ship strikes.'"
  • Click here to read the NGOs' notice of intent to sue NMFS

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