No. 315, August 24, 2002

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CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
Biodiversity Activist
August 24, 2002
www.biologicaldiversity.org

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BUSH ADMINISTRATION FAILS TO ENFORCE MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION
ACT

LAWSUIT FILED TO PROTECT WHALES, DOLPHINS, AND SEA LIONS FROM
DROWNING IN FISHING NETS

TUMBLING CREEK CAVESNAIL LISTED AS ENDANGERED

SUIT FILED TO PROTECT RARE SANTA CRUZ AREA PLANT

BONNIE RAITT JOINS CENTER IN RESISTANCE TO AN ATTACK ON CA'S
STRONGEST ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

ESA PROTECTION: CLINTON 151, BUSH 20

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BUSH ADMINISTRATION FAILS TO ENFORCE MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION
ACT

LAWSUIT FILED TO PROTECT WHALES, DOLPHINS, AND SEA LIONS FROM
DROWNING IN FISHING NETS

On August 14, 2002, the Center for Biological Diversity, along
with the Turtle Island Restoration Network and Oceana filed suit
against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for
violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The suit
seeks to force NMFS to reduce the killing of marine mammals in
commercial fishing gear. The MMPA requires that all fisheries
were to have reduced mortality and serious injury of marine
mammals to "insignificant levels approaching zero" by April of
last year. Unfortunately, for 57 marine mammal populations, this
goal has not been met.

The MMPA requires NMFS to reduce bycatch of marine mammals by
convening Take Reduction Teams whose purpose is to develop Take
Reduction Plans. A Take Reduction Plan is designed to reduce
marine mammal mortality by imposing restrictions or
modifications on fisheries that kill large numbers of marine
mammals. Such changes in the fishery typically include such
things as gear modification (smaller or shorter nets or lines),
devices called "pingers" designed to scare marine mammals away
from nets, and restrictions on when and where a fishery can
operate. To date, NMFS has convened only six Take Reduction
Teams and produced only three Take Reduction Plans.

The Center's lawsuit seeks to force NMFS to convene Take
Reduction Teams for ten at-risk populations of marine mammals
where fisheries mortality is particularly high. Close to a
hundred harbor porpoises are killed each year off the California
coast by gillnets. Four hundred common dolphins and over two
hundred pilot whales are killed in the Atlantic each year by
longline and trawl fisheries. Humpback whales are killed in
unsustainable numbers by fisheries in both the Atlantic and
Pacific. These and other species will all benefit from the Take
Reduction Plans NMFS will be forced to implement as a result of
the lawsuit.

The Center is represented in this case by Sylvia Liu of Oceana,
Aaron Courtney of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center, and
by Center attorney Brendan Cummings.

Further information on the lawsuit and on marine mammals can be
found at
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/press/mmpa8-14-02.html

Press release: http://ens-news.com/ens/aug2002/2002-08-14-07.asp

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TUMBLING CREEK CAVESNAIL LISTED AS ENDANGERED

In keeping with an agreement brokered by the Center for
Biological Diversity, the California Native Plant Society, and
the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project to expedite the
protection of 29 imperiled species from the Pacific Islands to
Florida, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the Tumbling
Creek cavesnail as an endangered species on 8-14-02. It was
listed on a temporary, emergency basis on 12-27-01.

Tumbling Creek Cave is a unique aquatic cave in Missouri which
is home to eight endemic species and one of the few remaining
maternity colonies of the endangered gray bat. Up to the late
1980s, it also supported a population of endangered Indiana
bats. The cavesnail is spiraling toward extinction due to
deteriorating water quality caused by overgrazing and pollution
from livestock feedlots. Its decline may also be associated with
the decline of the Indiana and gray bats as it likely feeds on
insects living on bat guano. The Indiana bat is now extirpated
from Tumbling Creek Cave and the gray bat population has
declined from 50,000 to about 12,000.

The cavesnail has declined from 15,000 individuals in 1974 to
about 40 today. Like hundreds of other imperiled species, it has
been stuck on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service list of
"candidates" for ESA protection since 1989 without any
protection. Few species make it off the candidate list without
the help of listing petitions or lawsuits.

For more information:
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/activist/ESA/settlement.html

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SUIT FILED TO PROTECT RARE SANTA CRUZ AREA PLANT

The Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native
Plant Society filed suit on 8-19-02 to compel the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service to take final action to list the Scotts Valley
polygonum and designate its "critical habitat" under the
Endangered Species Act(ESA).

On 11-09-00, the Service published a proposed rule in the
Federal Register to list the Scotts Valley polygonum as an
endangered species. On 2-15-01 the Service published a proposed
rule to designate 310 acres as critical habitat for the species.
By law, the Service has one year from the date of a proposed
action to list a species or designate its critical habitat,
however, it has yet to take final action to protect the Scotts
Valley polygonum or designate its critical habitat, which is a
violation of the ESA.

Scotts Valley polygonum (Polygonum hickmanii) is known to exist
in just eleven small colonies at two sites in the northern
Scotts Valley area of Santa Cruz County, California. The species
occurs with other small native, annual herbs in patches known as
"wildflower fields" within a more extensive grassland habitat.
Almost extinct, the polygonum occupies less than an acre of
habitat, and is threatened by urban development, disturbance
from humans, pets, and bicycle traffic, soil compaction, the
dumping of yard wastes, changes in hydrologic conditions, and
herbicides and pesticides.

The Plaintiffs are represented in the legal action by Brendan
Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity and attorney
Ronni Flannery.

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FEDS PROPOSE CRITICAL HABITAT FOR IMPERILED TOPEKA SHINER

As a result of a legal settlement with the Center for Biological
Diversity, South Dakota Resources Coalition and the Biodiversity
Legal Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed on
8-21-02 to designate critical habitat for the endangered Topeka
shiner over approximately 2,230 river miles in Iowa, Kansas,
Minnesota and South Dakota.

The Topeka shiner is a small fish which was once abundant
throughout the Central Great Plains and western tallgrass
prairies, and is now found in less than ten percent of its
original range due to siltation of spawning habitat, water
pollution, pesticide runoff, dams and diversions. Its population
has dropped by 80%, especially in the past 25 years, and it is
currently isolated in disconnected tributary streams in Kansas,
Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Many of the remaining populations of the species have declined
sharply in numbers and have become geographically isolated,
eliminating the possibility for genetic transfer between
populations. This fish is especially important because it serves
as an indicator of the general health of the aquatic ecosystems
upon which fish, wildlife and people alike depend.

The case was argued by Neil Levine and Jay Tutchton of
Earthjustice.

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BONNIE RAITT JOINS CENTER IN RESISTANCE TO AN ATTACK ON CA'S
STRONGEST ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Bonnie Raitt has joined the Center for Biological Diversity in
defense of California's Fully Protected Species law. In a letter
on 8-13-02 to Senator Sheila Kuehl and Governor Gray Davis, she
expressed opposition to Senator Kuehl's bill SB482 that would
repeal the Fully Protected Species law. The law is the most
powerful protection afforded to wildlife in California. If a
species is designated by the Legislature as a fully protected
species, it cannot be killed, nor its habitat destroyed if this
would ultimately lead to its death or destruction, under any
circumstance. This is significantly greater protection than that
afforded species that are merely listed as endangered or
threatened under the California Endangered Species Act.

Passing this legislation would end nearly 50 years of inviolate
protection for some of California's most beloved and imperiled
species, such as the California Condor, Northern Elephant Seal,
White Tailed Kite, Bighorn Sheep, Unarmored Threespine
Stickleback (a very rare fish species), and dozens of other rare
species. Kuehl's bill would eliminate this strong protection and
lead to further sprawl, loss of open space and widespread
habitat destruction.

For more information:
http://actionnetwork.org/alert-description.tcl?alert_id=2002235
or contact Peter Galvin at (510) 841-0812 ext. 2, or
pgalvin@biologicaldiversity.org

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ESA PROTECTION: CLINTON 151, BUSH 20

In its first 20 months in office, the Clinton Administration
protected 151 species under the Endangered Species Act. The Bush
Administration listed just 20 species in the same time span.
Every single Endangered Species Act listing under the Bush
Administration came in response to petitions or lawsuits by
environmental groups. Petitions or lawsuits by the Center for
Biological Diversity and the Biodiversity Legal Foundation (with
which it recently merged) were involved in every Bush
Administration listing action.

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