Defending False Killer Whales From Longlines

False killer whales are suffering because of Hawaii’s longline fisheries. Earthjustice is in court to ensure that these majestic creatures are protected from death and serious injury.

Case Overview

In 2004, under pressure from an Earthjustice lawsuit, the National Marine Fisheries Service finally re-classified the Hawaiʻi-based longline fishery as “Category 1″—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.

According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, this recategorization should have triggered the rapid creation of a team that would ensure improvements are made in the fishery to avoid killing or seriously injuring false killer whales. The National Marine Fisheries Service has failed to do so, claiming inadequate funding.

Earthjustice is involved in a long-standing court battle to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to protect this incredible imperiled species.

False killer whale, snagged on a longline, becomes victim of commercial fishing.
False killer whale, snagged on a longline, becomes victim of commercial fishing. (National Marine Fisheries Service Photo)

Case Updates

March 6, 2013 Press Release

Longlines Hook False Killer Whale, Threatening Hawai‘i Population

Conservation groups urge immediate implementation of protection plan

February 20, 2013 document

Longline Prohibited Area

October 16, 2012 Press Release: Victory

Protecting False Killer Whales from Longline Fishing

The federal agency charged with protecting marine mammals settled a court case by pledging to finalize and implement protections for false killer whales by November 30, 2012. False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens, which are actually large dolphins) have suffered unsustainable levels of death and serious injury in the Hawaiʻi-based longline fisheries. The National Marine Fisheries Service struck the agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network, represented by Earthjustice. When approved by the federal district court,…