NRDC Demands Protected Habitat for Endangered Hawaiian False Killer Whales
HONOLULU – The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit today in federal district court to force Endangered Species Act protections for Hawaiian false killer whales, which are more than two and a half years overdue.
Under the Endangered Species Act, government agencies had one year from the date of listing to designate habitat protections needed to ensure the endangered Hawaiian false killer whale population – which is now down to about 150 individuals – can stabilize and recover. The species was listed as endangered in 2012. Under law, critical habitat protections should have been established by 2013.
“Hawaiian false killer whales can’t wait,” said Giulia Good Stefani, a staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project. “The species is in grave danger of going extinct because of this delay. Their survival depends on getting their habitat – their home, really – protected. It’s past time for the government to step up and fulfill its duty.”
The Department of Commerce, National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service are responsible for designating critical habitat protections. The government has identified 29 separate threats to the species’ survival, including reduced prey from overfishing, injury and death from fishing gear, toxic contamination, anthropogenic noise (like mid-frequency sonar used by the U.S. Navy), and climate change.
- Today's filing: Civil Action No. 16-1442
- The Hawaiian False Killer Whale, Endangered but Not Protected blog, July 2016
- Endangered Species Act listing of Main Hawaiian insular false killer whale, 2012
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.