The Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network based in San Francisco has filed a notice that they intend to sue the Obama administration for illegally delaying protection of penguins. Last month, the deadline passed for the U.S. Department of the Interior to finalize the listing of seven penguin species under the Endangered Species Act. The birds are under converging threats from global climate change and industrial fishing. As the oceans warm and sea ice dwindles, the penguins’ prey base is severely reduced. And longline fishing practices in the Pacific drown countless penguins (and other seabirds) as they forage for food around fishing vessels.
Listing under the Endangered Species Act would afford the seven species (African, Humboldt, yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested, and erect-crested penguins and a few populations of the southern rockhopper penguin) a host of protections and would force the goverment to take measures to mitigate harm to the birds both from greenhouse gas emissions and commercial fishing.
The Center and Turtle Island Restoration Network also intend to file suit against the Interior Department for denying Endangered Species Act protections to emperor and rockhopper penguins when they initially reviewed the status of 12 species back in 2006.
SEANET will inform you of any further developments in the case as they come available. It will be interesting to see how the liberal-minded Obama administration responds to some strong language in the suit questioning their very commitment to environmental protections.