Posts tagged: National Marine Fisheries Service

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National Marine Fisheries Service


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Alexander Rony's blog posts
16 April 2014, 11:37 AM
Captured 40 years ago, Lolita symbolizes movement to free captive animals
A pod of southern resident orcas in Boundary Pass, north of San Juan Island, WA. (Howard Garrett / Orca Network)

(An infant orca was captured in 1970, named Lolita, and has lived ever since in a tiny pool at the Miami Seaquarium. The following is about her life and a growing movement supported by Earthjustice to have Lolita reintroduced to her native waters and possibly rejoined with her family pod in Washington state waters.)

The whale trappers were exhausted. For months the southern resident orcas of Puget Sound had been outsmarting them, dodging their traps and distracting their ships away from the younger whales. But the trappers meant business, and they returned with faster boats and loud explosives. On August 8, 1970, the trappers corralled the orcas into a cove and captured them in nets.

The trappers took home seven infant orcas, those still young enough to be trained and sold as entertaining distractions to marine parks. But the event soon unfolded into a larger scandal—a fisherman later found the purposefully sunk corpses of four infant orcas—galvanizing public opposition and leading to an agreement banning orca captures in Washington state waters. By the time these captures stopped in 1976, 13 orcas had been killed and 45 more had been removed from their families. The demographic hole left in the population caused a decline that, along with other factors, led to Endangered Species Act protection for this population in 2005.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
31 January 2014, 2:13 PM
Climate change threatens grapes, salmon and other dining favorites
Photo by Udo Schröter (Flickr)

While much of the country digs itself out from piles of snow, wine growers in Napa Valley are losing sleep over the state’s current drought, brought on by a lack of rain and freakishly warm weather.

California’s drought could spell disaster for wine growers in the region, who rely on rain stored in rivers and reservoirs to water their vineyards. But the damage isn’t just limited to the state’s wine connoisseurs. According to the Wine Institute, an industry trade group, California wines accounted for 63 percent of the total 703 million gallons—both foreign and domestic—consumed in the U.S. in 2005, or roughly two out of every three bottles sold in the country. As climate change continues to heat up the southwest, wine aficionados across the nationmay have a harder time finding their favorite pinot or syrah.
 
Of course, wine is hardly the only item on the menu that will be affected by a lack of water. Lack of rain can also stress out salmon, which require plenty of water to survive their migration from the ocean to inland waterways. Dams and diversions on rivers have already badly damaged important salmon runs along the west coast and scientists have confirmed that increasingly dry conditions will only magnify that damage.
 

View Brian Smith's blog posts
12 December 2013, 1:20 PM
Legislators support full examination of new science to protect whales
Humpback mother and calf. (Achimdiver / Shutterstock)

In November, whales and other marine mammals along the Pacific Coast from Northern California to the Canadian border got a little help from a federal court. Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas set a deadline of August 1, 2014 for the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a plan that will ensure Navy sonar and live-fire training doesn’t violate the Endangered Species Act.

The deadline came after a September 2013 court decision that found the Fisheries Service approved Navy training based on incomplete and outdated science.

“These training exercises harm Southern Resident killer whales, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises—through the use of high-intensity mid-frequency sonar,” said Steve Mashuda, an Earthjustice attorney who represented Northern California tribes and environmental groups. “The Fisheries Service must now employ the best science and require the Navy to protect whales and dolphins in its ongoing training exercises.”

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.

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View Roger Fleming's blog posts
15 August 2013, 2:09 PM
Vital forage fish suffers twin setbacks
Atlantic herring are a crucial part of the marine food web. (AdStock RF / Shutterstock)

Pity the lowly herring, an essential species getting little love these days from the government agencies that are supposed to protect them.

Everything eats herring—from whales to striped bass to seabirds. Without abundant herring stocks, the Atlantic food web doesn’t work. That’s why herring protection brings together a diverse coalition of interests that includes recreational and commercial fishermen, conservation groups and whale-watching businesses.

Sadly, two recent decisions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will have serious impacts on herring, and all of the species that depend upon them.

View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
22 March 2013, 7:27 PM
And ConocoPhillips eager to drill in the Arctic Ocean

Earthjustice received some superb video today from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, of Shell’s beat up Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, as it was lifted onto a huge dry haul ship to be carried to Asia for repairs:

This comes on the heels of a report from the Department of Interior, which summarized  a 60-day investigation into Shell’s 2012 Arctic Ocean drilling season and was highly critical of the oil giant’s operations.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
03 January 2013, 5:35 PM
Plus: Oregano immunity, recycling for couples, NorCal coastal protections
Photo courtesy of Scott Beale (flickr)

Climate change could flood Facebook, Google by 2050
Facebook can't be brought down by angry fans irritated with its privacy policy and data mining tendencies, but it could be swept away by climate change- induced sea level rise, reports Climate Wire. Though much of the California coastline is at risk, Silicon Valley is especially vulnerable since the land it sits on is between 3 and 10 feet below sea level. According to a draft study from the Army Corps of Engineers, an extreme storm coupled with higher seas could put the valley, along with nearby homes and businesses, under water. Despite the dire predictions, for now Silicon Valley inhabitants seem content with delaying any climate change action, a sentiment that world leaders are mimicking. Unfortunately, a recent study has found that delaying carbon cuts until 2020 will make dealing with climate change far more expensive than tackling it now, reports Reuters. And, delaying action also significantly reduces the chance of meeting an U.N. agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, which is the limit many scientists agree we must adhere to in order to avoid the most damaging effects of catastrophic climate change. So far, temperatures have risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius since we first started emitting carbon in massive quantities. While governments and industries dawdle, find out how Earthjustice is taking action to stop climate change, before it’s too late.

View John McManus's blog posts
28 November 2012, 2:58 PM
Earthjustice will act to protect them
L87, a southern resident orca, breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background.  (Susan Berta / Orca Network)

A far right anti-environmental group based in Sacramento, California is trying to get federal Endangered Species Act protections removed from a small extended west coast family group of killer whales.

This group of killer whales, or orcas, is known as the southern residents because they spend much of their time residing in coastal waters between Washington and Canada’s Vancouver island. They feed almost exclusively on salmon, which is indirectly what’s got them in trouble with the anti-environmental Pacific Legal Foundation. They eat salmon not only in Washington waters, but as far south as California when salmon mass there in the spring.

Federal regulators curtailed fresh water diversions to large agricultural operations in the desert on the west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley, in part to save the salmon eaten by the whales—both for the sake of the threatened salmon, and for the whales. The Pacific Legal Foundation and other anti-environment groups (including one headed by a former Bush Administration wildlife official) found a few irrigators there who were willing to ignore the needs of the orcas in order to get more water diverted.

Because these groups and the irrigators live more than a thousand miles from where the killer whales spend most of their time, no one should be surprised they aren’t all that concerned about the whales.

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View Roger Fleming's blog posts
22 June 2012, 12:16 PM
Finally, oversight coming for poorly regulated fisheries
Herring school.

A special thank you goes out to the thousands of Earthjustice supporters who took action over the last few months by writing to the fishery management councils. Your voices made a huge difference.

After a long struggle, we just concluded two great weeks in the campaign to protect forage fish, some of the most important fish in the sea.

I want to share with you some of the details about what happened.

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View John McManus's blog posts
17 May 2012, 12:57 PM
Coastal training kills, injures more than thought
A Navy vessel with research ship and orca pod, in the foreground. (Center for Whale Research)

Last week, the U.S. Navy came out with a shocking confession. They now admit that their coastal training exercises kill or harm more marine mammals than previously acknowledged. Apparently, new data led to a recalculation about how many whales, dolphins and seals are hurt by the mid-frequency sonar and explosions the Navy routinely use in training off our coasts.

Earthjustice is challenging a permit by the National Marine Fisheries Service allowing the Navy to train in the Pacific Northwest, off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and northern California. The challenge aims to get the Navy to move its training a short distance to deeper waters off the continental shelf where marine mammal populations quickly thin out, and away from other areas where marine wildlife congregate.

Note of clarification: We agree that warfare is more sophisticated than ever before, meaning the Navy has to use more sophisticated measures to make sure enemy subs and the like don’t get close enough to the U.S. to harm us. Unfortunately, they choose to train in the same coastal waters where ocean food production is high and are thick with marine mammals.

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