Lawsuit Challenges Delay in Listing Hawaiian False Killer Whale

Failure to list the rare 150-member population threatens their survival

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 22, 2012) –The government’s failure to add the Hawaiian false killer whale, a small, 150-member whale population, to the endangered species list prompted the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to file a federal lawsuit this morning. The lawsuit comes six months after a statutory deadline requiring the National Marine Fisheries Service to make a final decision about the listing.  

“We cannot afford to waste another day leaving these endangered whales vulnerable,” said Michael Jasny, Senior Policy Analyst of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Project. “Without federal protection, the whales are facing complete extinction within a generation. That fate is preventable if the Obama Administration acts swiftly.”

The Hawaiian false killer whale is a small, ecologically and genetically unique population that has suffered a significant decline over the last 25 years. In 2010, NMFS released a 230-page report concluding that the population stands “at a high risk of extinction.” This small population of whales faces a number of serious manmade threats ranging from injury in fishing nets, competition for food, and exposure to pollution that an ESA designation would alleviate.

NRDC petitioned the Fisheries Service to list the imperiled whales in September 2009, and the Fisheries Service proposed listing them as endangered in October 2010. The Endangered Species Act allows the government one year to make a final decision after it proposes to list a species as endangered or threatened. The lawsuit was filed in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia.

Video of the Hawaiian false killer whales is available here: