Thursday, November 03, 2011

{Press} Federal agency sued for whale protection

Cape Cod Times | Mary Ann Bragg | November 02, 2011

"BOSTON — A lawsuit filed in federal court Monday could push the National Marine Fisheries Service to do more to protect endangered whales from fishing gear entanglements off Cape Cod.

Three nonprofit whale advocacy groups filed the lawsuit in Boston seeking better protections for North Atlantic right whales, humpbacks, fin and sei whales in seas roughly three to 200 miles off the coast from Maine to Cape Hatteras, N.C.
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Fishing industries that receive federal authorization to land lobster, ground fish, monkfish and spiny dogfish use gear that entangles the whales, according to the lawsuit.

In 2011, at least seven right whale entanglements and 10 humpback entanglements have occurred in the region, as well as at least two right whale deaths from injuries related to the errant fishing gear, the lawsuit states.

The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society filed the suit.

The groups want to force the fisheries service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to do a complete analysis of the effects of the four fishing industries on the endangered whales.

A spokeswoman for the service declined comment Tuesday, saying the federal agency doesn't speak about pending litigation."

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