Cetacean Society International

Working for whales, dolphins and porpoises worldwide

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2017
Contact: David Kaplan Esq, President davidgkaplan@gmail.com, c 860-966-2077
William Rossiter, Director, Grants and Science, rossiter@csiwhalesalive.org, c 203-770-8615

North Atlantic Right Whale Among Endangered Species Decisions Undercut by Politics

New Report: Science Suppressed, Ignored Due to Political Pressure

Washington, D.C. – A new report out today shows that the best available science in imperiled plant and wildlife decisions isn't always followed, despite the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. Pressure from politically-powerful special interests often unduly influences these decisions, undermining science and wildlife conservation, according to the Endangered Species Coalition. Now, under the Trump Administration, that pressure is worsening.

The report, "Suppressed: How Politics Drowned out Science for Ten Endangered Species" highlights ten imperiled fish, plant and wildlife conservation decisions over the last decade in which the science was either ignored or suppressed as a result of intense special interest lobbying and influence. The report includes the imperiled North Atlantic right whale, which is threatened by entanglements, ship strikes, seismic surveys, and offshore energy exploitation.

Connecticut-based Cetacean Society International (CSI) nominated the right whale for the report. "Scientific data show that entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes have put the species on a trajectory to extinction," said William Rossiter, CSI's Director, Grants and Science. "The Administration and Congress are intent on accelerating the loss of this species by promoting the exploitation of offshore oil and gas extraction in the direct path of the whales' migratory route." Key right whale habitat includes both the foraging grounds off New England and calving grounds off Florida.

"The situation is critical," said Rossiter. "Roughly 450 right whales survive in the entire North Atlantic, but more animals are dying than are born into the population. In addition, females are dying in greater numbers than males. The survival of the species now depends on those few females able to give birth and rear their calves, despite having to migrate through the dangerous maze of fishing gear, the cacophony of offshore oil and gas operations and the increasing threats of ship strikes."

Congress is looking to pass legislation that will weaken both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, legislation fundamental to the right whales' survival.

The stifling of science has been widespread under the Trump Administration this past year, as it slashed science budgets at NASA, NOAA, EPA, and other agencies. The Administration has also hired industry representatives to run its agencies, pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and deemed a scientific background unnecessary for positions that require scientific knowledge. Agency scientists have been silenced, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has consistently rolled back science-based rules in favor of polluters.

"Our native fish, plants and wildlife aren't just a critically valuable part of the legacy we leave for future generations of Americans, they're key to providing a good quality of life for all humans right now," said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "But we are concerned that the prevalence of special interest, industry representatives inside the Trump Administration is intensifying the suppression of science in endangered species decisions."

Endangered Species Coalition's member groups nominated species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with a slideshow and additional species information can be viewed and downloaded at http://SuppressedScience.org/.

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a "Top 10" report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years' reports are also available on the Coalition's website.

Notes for Editors:

Four species in the report – the wolverine, greater sage grouse, dunes sagebrush lizard and the Hermes copper butterfly – were denied protection under the Endangered Species Act, in spite of massive, historic population declines and severe threats to the species. And just last week, the Trump Administration denied listing for four more imperiled species (on top of the 29 others denied protection under the Act this past year).

Late last month, the Trump Administration finalized a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf, one of the most endangered mammals in North America. The plan ignored the scientific recommendations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's own Mexican Wolf Recovery Team, calling for a minimum population of only half the number of wolves that the scientists recommended.

Another rare and endangered Southwest U.S. species in the report – the ocelot – is threatened with increased habitat fragmentation as a result of President Trump's proposed border wall. The border wall would obstruct essential migration routes, not only for the ocelot, but for an estimated 90 other imperiled species.

Two other water-dwelling species in the report were also victims of science suppression, including the pallid sturgeon and the Pacific leatherback sea turtle. One of the largest reptiles in the world, the leatherback can journey more than 10,000 miles between habitats. This past June, the Trump administration withdrew a proposed regulation on drift gillnets (used to catch swordfish) in response to persistent lobbying from the commercial fishing industry.

In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the greater sage grouse as endangered, citing an unprecedented region-wide habitat conservation effort, tied to state and federal conservation plans. However, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke is threatening to undo even these modest, bipartisan conservation measures. Meanwhile, sage grouse numbers have declined by 90 percent from historic levels. Protecting umbrella species like sage grouse conserves habitats on which many other species rely, like mule deer and pronghorn.

STOP CONGRESS FROM REMOVING PROTECTIONS FOR CETACEANS

Posted on 15 November 2017

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Please contact your Representatives in Congress and tell them to vote against H.R. 4239. If passed, this bill will strip the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of key provisions designed to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises from the impacts of oil industry development, including seismic airgun testing and drilling.

We need a strong MMPA now more than ever, given the increasing threats facing cetaceans, which include entanglement in fishing gear, climate change, noise pollution and habitat destruction. As the Marine Mammal Protection Act turns 45, we must work to protect and strengthen its provisions, not weaken them. Please, take action now and tell your Congressperson to vote "no" on H.R. 4239.

You can find contact details at www.house.gov. Thank you.

Save the Endangered Species Act!

Posted on 8 July 2017

Showing Overwhelming Support for the Endangered Species Act, More Than 400 Conservation Groups Sign Letter Opposing Efforts to Weaken Wildlife Law

CSI has signed this letter!

Click here for more information.

Read the full text of the letter here.

International Save the Vaquita Day: July 8, 2017

Posted on 20 June 2017

Help to save the vaquita, one of the rarest and most endangered species of marine mammal in the world.

Click here for more information.

The Ocean Home Under Attack: Whale News Spring 2017

By Taffy Lee Williams

Posted on 30 May 2017

Here are just a few of the latest news items which are impacting whale species around the world. Today we are witnessing the earth's sixth mass extinction. One cannot separate news of the oceans from news of whales. These iconic, well studied and beloved whales mean so much to us, symbolizing looming issues we all face on the Blue Earth today. What's happening in the seas?

Taffy's article follows in this PDF file:

WHALE_NEWS_3-17-2.pdf

The Southern Right Whale In Patagonia Argentina:
"Whale Watching, Biology And Beyond"

Posted on 9 April 2017

If you're a dedicated whale watcher, you'll be excited to know that Argentina's Gulf of San Matias may provide the experience of a lifetime many have felt with the gray whales of Mexico. Because small commercial whale watches have started to bring people together with "friendly" Southern right whales in this Gulf, a scientific assessment was requested by the "Asociación de Operadores Náuticos" to the "Fundación de Historia Natural Felix de Azara" (FHNFA), to document any impact on the whales and the marine environment. Documenting the whales' behavior and biology was also part of this project. Dra. Marcela Junin and her team from the Marine mammal lab, Fundación Felix de Azara, began their assessment in 2014, with additional support from CSI in 2016.

Dra. Junin has provided this report for your pleasure, from the broad wealth of data she will submit for her formal scientific report. While CSI is especially pleased that we could help support the study, we're dedicated whale watchers at heart, and wonder when we'll have a chance to experience this ourselves!

Dra. Junin's report follows in this PDF file:

Argentina_Junin_Report.pdf

CONNY's 40th Birthday Celebration!

On June 25, 2016, CSI celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the building of CONNY, the life-size ferro-concrete model of a sperm whale built by CSI in 1976 on the grounds of the Children's Museum at 950 Trout Brook Drive in West Hartford, CT.

The celebration included programs by CSI as well as Don Sineti and Friends performing live, and the Connecticut River Ramblers performing live. It also included Robbins Barstow's video of the amazing story of the construction of CONNY, which required many hours of volunteer labor and donated materials. Some of the people who built CONNY were on hand, too.

The Movie SONIC SEA Shown In Hartford, CT

"Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life. But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. Sonic Sea is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution."

The movie SONIC SEA was shown at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street, Hartford, CT, on May 23 through May 26, 2016. CSI was there to make a presentation on each night. Thanks to everyone who organized this event, and everyone who attended the movie!

See the movie's web site at www.sonicsea.org.

CSI's Anti-Captivity Flyer

CSI's 1997 anti-captivity flyer is still relevant today, even with outdated statistics. Its message is even more powerful than today's headlines in major media, as reflected by Wall Street, SeaWorld's increasing panic, and the public's realization that their tickets support the exploitation of the captives. Read it here:

Don't Be Held Captive To Any Illusions: CSI's anti-captivity flyer

TEDx Talk Highlights Why SeaWorld Should Retire Shamu

AWI Scientist Dr. Naomi Rose Highlights How Captivity Destroys Orca Family Structure

CSI is a founding partner in the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA).

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