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Orcas Struggle For Survival Against Big Ag


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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 August 2013, 7:46 AM
Mega-farms would exterminate Puget Sound whales' main food: salmon
Orca L87 breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background, Oct. 15, 2010. (Susan Berta / Orca Network)

Something special is swimming in Puget Sound—84 unique whales found nowhere else on earth, who might have disappeared altogether if not for Earthjustice’s work to protect them from a far-distant threat.

Early this month, the government rejected a misguided proposal to strip protections from this dwindling species: Southern Resident orca whales. Visitors to the Pacific Northwest likely know these orcas well; they attract wildlife enthusiasts from around the world with their intelligence and playful displays of agility. They also attract curious scientists—this pod of fish-eating coastal orcas is genetically distinct and isolated from its mammal-eating and offshore cousins, diverging more than 700,000 years ago.

The ill-conceived attempt to push these few animals closer to extinction was made on behalf of California industrial-scale farms by the Pacific Legal Foundation—a big-industry bosom buddy that receives funds from the infamous Koch Brothers. PLF and its clients refuse to accept that the orcas deserve the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately, science indicates otherwise.

California agribusiness has it out for these orcas because of salmon, their primary food source. In the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, the main salmon-producing river system in California, endangered salmon are killed by a maze of dams, water diversions and massive pumps that export river water to industrial farms in the state. Sucking huge amounts of water out of rivers to irrigate mega-farms kills salmon, and therefore harms orcas as well. This was the government’s conclusion in 2009, following an Earthjustice lawsuit, and growers and their political allies didn’t like it.

Earthjustice litigation secured Endangered Species Act protections for the Southern Resident orcas in 2005, which has provided a powerful set of legal tools to work towards ending the various threats that plague them: decimation of salmon populations, toxic pollution and disturbance from big ships. The orca population remains in serious jeopardy. With ESA protections still in place, Earthjustice and our allies can continue the work to help this species recover, but our work has to continue to defend the protections that the orcas now enjoy.

The plight of orcas illustrates the vital importance of the ESA itself, which turns 40 later this year. The Act, and Earthjustice’s litigation under it, have saved innumerable species and the habitats they depend upon, preventing many species from going extinct altogether.

Orcas and sea lions: enemies in the wild, allies in the court. (Lance Barrett-Lennard, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA)

Orcas and sea lions: enemies in the wild, allies in the court. (Lance Barrett-Lennard, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA)

The endangered Steller sea lion is another prime example. The western population of Steller sea lions in the North Pacific Ocean in Alaska has declined by 80 percent because of industrial fishing, which nets huge, unsustainable amounts of mackerel, cod and other prey that the sea lions depend on. The government instituted protections in 2010 to reduce competition between industrial fishing boats and sea lions, which industry challenged. Earthjustice, on behalf of Oceana and Greenpeace, joined the government and successfully defended the protections.

These kinds of protections, afforded by the ESA, are vital to the long-term survival of species that have been pushed towards extinction by human activity. Too many in industry and in Congress would have us believe that the ESA is no longer needed and should be gutted. We and the orcas disagree.

Why continue to damage the ecosystem, when will you realise the damage is irriversable

To my knowledge, we at PLF have never received any donation from the Koch Brothers. You're welcome to review our Form 990s and those of the Koch Foundations to double-check. Of course, we'd LOVE to have them donate, so perhaps you could put a good word in for us?

Save our precious orcas!! Protect the salmon, orcas need them more than we do! STOP MESSING WITH OUR ECOSYSTEM!

Preposterous that there is even an argument about doing what is necessary to save our salmon so important is this issue! Nothing must be allowed which would threaten the flourishing of this magnificent essential creature!!!

We need to stop this slaughter of wildlife on land and in the sea, this pollution of air and water, deforestation, extraction of coal, oil, gas & minerals. The endless greed of giant corporations is destroying the world for the rest life.

Some things each of us can do on our own that can make a difference: stop or greatly reduce driving motor vehicles; stop or greatly reduce eating meat; use non-power instead of power tools & utensils (push mower instead of power mower, rake instead of leaf blower...); avoid buying plastic and other non-biodegradable artificial stuff, in fact before buying anything, make sure it is something necessary or valuable to you or to whomever you're buying it for; buy organic produce (or grow your own) and stick to local products as much as possible, and avoid any products from huge corporations and known environmental unfriendly entities, including ingredients in foods and other products made by such entities (like "modified corn starch", corn syrup (high fructose or not), and soy products -- all which are likely GMO)

Thank God the government maintained protection for these rare orcas. We need to see more of this.

Orcas are the top indicators of health of the seas, so once they disappear, the ecosystem crashes. This link is a known fact. Farmers are not educated enough to know the consequences of just working for their own financial survival. Someone else must be responsible, so to attack the farmers is not sensible. If the entire society is based on big profit, without consideration of our place in the ecosystem, then that society will go down with the collapse. I would favour building another society where farmers and bankers are educated about our responsibilities to pay for survival of all species. Is there a majority anywhere that would vote to give some money back to protect all species? Farmers should be first to refuse to kill salmon, before their own profit. The financial system is to blame, because it does not include long-term sustainability. Change urgently or our system is over.

Orcas are the top indicators of health of the seas, so once they disappear, the ecosystem crashes. This link is a known fact. Farmers are not educated enough to know the consequences of just working for their own financial survival. Someone else must be responsible, so to attack the farmers is not sensible. If the entire society is based on big profit, without consideration of our place in the ecosystem, then that society will go down with the collapse. I would favour building another society where farmers and bankers are educated about our responsibilities to pay for survival of all species. Is there a majority anywhere that would vote to give some money back to protect all species? Farmers should be first to refuse to kill salmon, before their own profit. The financial system is to blame, because it does not include long-term sustainability. Change urgently or our system is over.

Hey, you can't ignore this. All life needs protections to survive and thrive. I insist that the Endangered Species Act stays strong. This is about conservation. You better be listening to me.

If American, and other "developed" economies, have such prowess in science and technology, why is it so restricted from being used to create environmentally sustainable food production systems? The answer is: excessive corporate power. We need to amend the Constitution to get rid of Citizens United, stop selling our governments to the highest bidder, and return the will of the people to running the country. Urge your state legislatures to sign on to amending the Constitution. Countless ecosystems and their threatened species depend on you, and ultimately we humans do too!

Greed is stupid, protect the life of our planet!

Protect nature before it is destroyed

Welcome to the US..the land of the enslaved, and the testing grounds to the billionaire dictatorship takeover. When corporate interests override the health and wellbeing of the only place we have to live, it's way way past time for their rights to be scrutinized under a microscope. The rights of the corporation should never exceed the rights of the individual of all classes. Their job is to make or grow the things we consumers want. They should be catering to us...not the way it is at present.

Our biosphere is the only one we get...our job is truly to care for our planet and all the life forms that call it home. We have no right to claim earth as ours to do with what we please. We have to always consider the long term effects our actions do and will have. When it's gone...it's forever.

Stop throwing nature and the environment under the bus to appease poor business practices.

We must preserve our resources including all of the animals and their ecosystems.

Time for some serious conversation about our water and it's usage...we cannot just stand on the ones farthest from the beginning of the end of our resources without discussing the reality of all of it. This conversation belongs to the public, what must begin to be adopted for better usage, and more awareness of what dire consequences are heading our way. Anything less is unacceptable.

Our environment should be protected as a matter of course. For one very simple reason: All Life depends on it. The first question we should ask before taking any action is: How will this action affect the environment?
Unfortunately this has not been the case and much damage has been done through human activities which have not been thought through or, more often than than not, sheer greed and callousness.
Now we are seeing certain interests (read: criminals!) attempting to erode the protective laws and regulations that were put into place to safeguard against abuse of our life support system. It must be made clear that they do not have the right to just take what they want without any consideration to our planet and the life it supports, including ourselves and future generations.

We are slowly coming to realize that we have all been enslaved by the corporations that have shaped our collective consciousness for decades! Let them now eat the harvest they have sowed: GMO crops and their seeds that are drought resistant, and drink their fossil fuels that are choking the atmosphere... and die from the cancers they have unleashed!
It is up to the rest of us to fight back, with our voices, votes, feet and wallets... DIVEST in every sense of the word! Insist on locally raised foods and other products, renewable energy, refuse plastics, protect endangered species including homo sapiens! It's easy, but slow... We can't wait any longer to get started on our movement to our brighter future. Together, yes we can!

Well said! Best wishes, didi

AMEN To that "Brother"! I feel a NEW "Revolution" rising and getting stronger! I hope!! TRUTH and REALITY MUST OPEN EYES SOON- IF we are to survive! What we are doing to this Earth is criminal and NOT sustainable! Earth is now fighting back to rid itself of the "parasites" we Humans have become! Why, in the 21st cnetury are we NOT wise enough, not educated and aware enough to see how interconnected we are to everything! That WE have a responsibility for consequences of every action and choice we make everyday!
Our life styles are NOT sustainable and each one of us MUST do our part for us to thrive and continue to exist.
Hasn't there been enough disasters, deaths, pollution, food recalls, spills, explosions, degradation and destruction? Time to live more simply and with less of an impact!!

Big Ag is the greatest threat to life on Earth today. Why? Greed! As long as it can get huge profits from its dangerous actions, we humans are threatened. Worry about the future? We (the 1%) are so rich it won't touch us. Think again! No food, deadly drinking water? No air that's safe to breathe? If you think money will save you, GOOD! You're too stupid to survive.

Big Ag is the greatest threat to life on Earth today. Why? Greed! As long as it can get huge profits from its dangerous actions, we humans are threatened. Worry about the future? We (the 1%) are so rich it won't touch us. Think again! No food, deadly drinking water? No air that's safe to breathe? If you think money will save you, GOOD! You're too stupid to survive.

My God, is this the Obama administration? I am shocked.

thank you for all you do for wildlife and the environment...they need all the help they can get!

Many Thanks for maintaining protection of this unique group of orcas. Proclaiming them endangered species happily allows protection from decimation of salmon populations, toxic pollution and disturbance from big ships.

The plight of orcas illustrates the vital importance of the ESA itself, which turns 40 later this year. The Act, and Earthjustice’s litigation under it, have saved innumerable species and the habitats they depend upon, preventing many species from going extinct altogether.

The ESA is still needed today to protect endangered species from influence of mega industry!

Only saw 2 butterflies ALL summer. And the only birds to see are crackles. Where did everyone go? Guess it's just survival of the fittest or the richest.

Extinct is forever. Thought eveyone knew this.

Humans need to take action to protect these endangered animals and be aware not to keep stripping the earth for human's own selfish gain!!!

Humans need to take action to protect these endangered animals and be aware not to keep stripping the earth for human's own selfish gain!!!

Please prevail in this never ending fight to save the Orca whales in Puget sound. It is the sound's life we are talking about here. The extermination of these Orcas is the intent of greed. Water is in short supply because the farmers keep stealing it along with Industry.

Please prevail in this never ending fight to save the Orca whales in Puget sound. It is the sound's life we are talking about here. The extermination of these Orcas is the intent of greed. Water is in short supply because the farmers keep stealing it along with Industry.

You know what why not just allow Man to kill all the fish all the whales and Marine life. I mean who cares about Marine Lives anyway for they seem to get in the way of Man's Greed! Same with the Lands Wildlife, just kill them all opening up new areas for more of Man's Destruction.

Man doesn't care about them, humans only care about padding their own back pockets! So hey kill them all and allow man's wealth to grow!

Yet be aware once Humans kill our seas, life in the seas and all wildlife on land they will have nothing left to kill but more humans. So Allow man to kill and then allow them to reap every single form of emptiness, loneliness, worthless dollars and funds and The Empty Power that they feel entitled too. You think that the air is filthy now, just wait for what we have now in pollution with quadruple once Humans are allowed to kill every living being on this earth for the purposes of personal and corporate gain.

So let them kill wildlife those on land and in the seas as well as humans lives, as such is the Only Thing To Date That MAN Has Succeeded In, Killing and Death nothing more or less!

Save our whales for future generations. They are magnificent creatures. Also the, life blood for some people.

I am not surprised. The Administration and the Congress do not represent us or have any interest in the preservation of this planet. They lack the intelligence, or perhaps do not care, that this planet requires all of its species to survive and that fracking, damming rivers to increase personal wealth, poisoning the planet with GMOs, petroleum based fertilizers and weed killers are killing us and their children too. After all, if it is in the air we ALL breath it. They bow to the grotesquely wealthy in the hopes that they can obtain the droppings from their mouths, thus giving them more money to waste on devastation and buying useless toys while others starve and suffer. It is beyond them to realize that what they do now will rain down on their offspring, or perhaps they do not care about them either. The people of this country need to come out of their stupor and realize what is being taken away. Our real heros are being tortured, put in jail or hunted like animals. They, not Obama, deserve Nobel prizes..

We need to protect all wildlife either land or sea. I think everyone knows lot of the animals are being abused or slaughter for no reason. This is what man is doing. He is ruining this planet. We have to save it from being destroyed.

This is a sin of omission and should not be overlooked because it will effect an endangered species as drastically as some more visible means

Save the whale's food sources!

When we harm other species to make money, we altimately harm oursleves.

The Endangered Species Act has worked, and it is still needed more yhan ever.

Bravo,Bravo Earthjustice!.
May you continue with success your fight for
For The Endangered Species Act!

Please allow salmon to be kept in the water for the orcas to survive. Sounds silly, but if you were an orca and had no food, you would be desperate to find salmon to sustain your hunger too. Think about it!

It keeps coming back at us....our world population is unsustainable. For a long time I have wanted to believe if we changed the way we do things we can still manage our ever-growing population. It looks like that positive attitude may be on the wane. Every day the assaults on every aspect of our planet's sustainability grow and they are not being mitigated significantly. One positive step here and there does not fix two negatives. Day after day the assaults of every kind keep coming. And the population continues to grow (more slowly maybe, but still growing). It's not looking good. Too many are uber-wealthy, tremendously powerful and foolishly(self-destructively) in it for themselves only. And too many are too comfortable while too many of all incomes and lifestyles are getting more violent from the stress (rats in a cage). I will keep fighting and working for the greater good, but sneaking in is the fear that we are 'pissing up a rope'. For the general population to wait until imminent collapse before jumping into action is total folly. It will be too late.

The ESA is needed now more than ever. If we become complacent to the issue, agribusiness--like a bacteria--will develop a full scale resistance to any future counter measures.

Why does money override everything else?
I believe greed to be so strong in this world, that
there are people who would ( and have) sacrificed
any and everything that would get in their way, including
their own family members.
Leave the orcas be. Leave nature alone. Protect those beings
that nature has provided us for beauty and the ecosystem.

Please stop interfering with the circle of life. Leave nature, and the environment alone. Our children deserve a future full of wildlife, and if this doesn't stop, there will be nothing left.

PROTECT THESE SPECIAL WHALES!!! SAVE THE ORCAS NOW!! I WANT MY GRANDCHILDREN TO SEE THESE MAJESTIC CREATURES! WILL THEY BE THE NEXT DODO BIRD? tHE ENDANGERED Act is definitly needed as we humans-not HUMANE- are raping this Mother Earth.

PROTECT THESE SPECIAL WHALES!!! SAVE THE ORCAS NOW!! I WANT MY GRANDCHILDREN TO SEE THESE MAJESTIC CREATURES! WILL THEY BE THE NEXT DODO BIRD? tHE ENDANGERED Act is definitly needed as we humans-not HUMANE- are raping this Mother Earth.

Please protect the salmon, which are the food supply for orcas, which are endangered.

More greed !!!

I wasn't aware of any of this, thanks for the info. As our human population continues to skyrocket we continue to see such pressures put on our animal neighbors and their habitats. the only solution is a complete revolution in human thought, a flipping our values from materialism to spirituality, the out to the inner, addiction to recovery. It starts with us.

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