CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
For Immediate Release August 16th, 2005
PETITION FILED TO PROTECT
Contact: Brent Plater (415) 436-9682
San Francisco, CA—The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal administrative petition with the Bush Administration to protect the North Pacific right whale as a separate species under the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s safety net for imperiled fish, wildlife and plants.
“The Right Whale was nearly hunted to extinction, and so it is our shared responsibility to insure that this species survives,” said Brent Plater of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We owe it to future generations to protect this special creature, and we can start by getting our regulations to match up with the science showing pacific right whales to be a separate species.”
Scientists have shown through genetic evidence that right whales in the North Pacific are a separate species from right whales in the North Atlantic and the Southern Hemisphere. However, in January 2005 the Bush Administration rolled-back an attempt to make the regulations consistent with the scientific evidence by removing the North Pacific species, Eubalaena japonica, from the “list” of protected species under the Endangered Species Act, and replacing it with an outdated taxonomic classification that posits right whales in the North Atlantic and North Pacific are the same species. Today’s petition will insure that right whales in the Pacific receive uninterrupted Endangered Species Act protection while providing the whales with proper classification and status.
The petition comes on the heels of a significant court victory for right
whales, ordering the Bush Administration to protect critical habitats
for right whales in the Pacific. Today’s petition will not impact
the critical habitat designation, but will prevent the Administration
from arguing that because other species of right whale exist in the world
it can provide less protection for right whales in the Pacific.
In light of these remarkable sightings, in 2000 the Center for Biological
requested that NMFS protect the Right Whale’s “critical
habitat” as required by the federal Endangered Species Act. However,
refused to protect any habitat for the whale, even though the species’ critical
summertime habitats had been found. The Center then requested that NMFS
reconsider its determination, but the agency never responded to any of
the Center’s requests. The Center was thus left with no choice
but to initiate litigation in late 2004 to insure that the Right Whale’s
recovery was not impeded.