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False Killer Whale Longline Defense

Case Number # 1901

For years, the National Marine Fisheries Service has illegally ignored its own data, which show the Hawaiʻi-based longline fleet currently is injuring and killing false killer whales at over twice the level the population can sustain.

A false killer whale, snagged on a longline, becomes victim of commercial fishing.
A false killer whale, snagged on a longline,
becomes victim of commercial fishing. (NMFS)
View a slideshow of false killer whales and longlines.

In 2004, under pressure from an Earthjustice lawsuit, the National Marine Fisheries Service finally re-classified the Hawaiʻi-based longline fishery as "Category I"—a designation for fisheries that annually kill and seriously harm marine mammals at unstainable rates—due to its excessive incidental take of Hawaiʻi's false killer whales. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, this recategorization should have triggered the prompt establishment of a take reduction team to devise a plan to bring the fishery's incidental take "to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate." NMFS has failed to do so, claiming inadequate funding. At the same time, NMFS has never applied the congressionally-mandated factors to allocate resources where insufficient funding is available for all required take reduction actions.

Hawaiʻi's marine mammals are paying with their lives for NMFS's refusal to comply with the law. Earthjustice is suing NMFS to compel it to heed Congress's command to protect Hawaiʻi's false killer whales from needless death and injury.

Press Releases

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Conservation groups urge immediate implementation of protection plan
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Conservation groups, Fisheries Service agree on deadline for take reduction plan
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Fisheries Service finds whales killed at unsustainable levels
Monday, June 25, 2012
Longline fisheries continue killing whales at unsustainable levels
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Steps taken to address Earthjustice lawsuit
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Photos released under Freedom on Information Act
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Longline fishery killing whales at twice sustainable levels