The action was motivated by a 2018 legal law. victory by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Wishtoyo Foundation and the Tortuga Island Restoration Network, which filed a lawsuit over the federal failure to designate critical habitat as required by the Endangered Species Act.
“Pacific humpback whales finally got the habitat protection they have needed for so long. Now we need to better protect humpback whales from boat strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, their leading causes of death, ”said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney for the Center. in a sentence. “To regain the west coast populations of these majestic and playful whales, we need mandatory speed limits for boats and the conversion of California’s deadly trap fisheries to ropeless gear.”
The The Center for Biological Diversity also sued the federal government in January for failing to protect endangered whales from the speed of ships using California ports. The organization also co-sponsors the California Whale Tangle Prevention Act (Bill 534 of the Assembly), which would require the state’s commercial Dungeness crab fisheries and other trap fisheries to be converted to ropeless gear (also known as “on-demand” or “pop-up buoy” gear) by the end of 2025.
An endangered humpback whale population that forages off the coast of California contains fewer than 800 individuals, leaving them vulnerable to threats from humans.
This rule is a victory as it designates a total of 224,030 square nautical miles for the two endangered and one threatened populations, but the overlapping habitat means 116,098 square nautical miles will be protected.
Specifically, the rule designates 48,521 square nautical miles of critical habitat off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington for the wintering humpback population in Central America.
Mexico’s population scored 116,098 square nautical miles in the North Pacific Ocean, including the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, regions that also make up the 59,411 square nautical miles listed for the Western North Pacific humpback population.
“Today is a good day for humpback whales and the ocean that all living things depend on,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network. “The designation of 116,000 square miles of critical ocean habitat is something to celebrate, but whales, turtles, and dolphins still need additional protection from industrial fishing and ship crashes to recover and thrive, so we will not fall asleep in the laurels”.
Protecting critical habitat will help safeguard oceanic areas essential for migration and foraging. The designation will ensure that activities permitted by the federal government do not destroy or damage important whale habitat. Evidence shows that endangered or threatened species that have protected critical habitat are twice as likely to recover than those that have not, and that’s good news.
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