The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

Feds to Reevaluate Threat of Gillnet Fishing to Humpback Whales

SAN FRANCISCO — Environmentalists claimed victory following an agreement by the National Marine Fisheries Service to complete a new biological assessment on the state of humpback whales living in the waters off the West Coast.

The announcement follows a joint stipulation approved Thursday by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer after the Center for Biological Diversity sued Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2022. The suit claimed the drift gillnet fishery caused “excessive harm to endangered humpback whales,” in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

“Humpback whales just won a key victory against destructive gillnets,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “These amazing animals face so many threats off California, and absurdly huge nets are a hazard they really shouldn’t have to dodge. This agreement will help ensure whales are protected while the drift gillnet fishery winds down operations over the next five years.”

Kilduff said humpbacks have been endangered since the creation of the Endangered Species Act in 1973.

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