Peter Fimrite – August 24, 2018
The Trump administration agreed Friday to protect humpback whale habitat in the Pacific Ocean after American Indian and conservation groups sued the government for leaving the playful leviathans vulnerable to ship strikes, oil spills and entanglements in fishing gear.
The suit by the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, a nonprofit that represents American Indian tribes, was settled Friday in federal court in San Francisco.
The National Marine Fisheries Service agreed to designate critical habitat for the animals by mid-2019 and finalize those boundaries a year later. It means the migration routes of three endangered or threatened populations of humpbacks on the West Coast will be protected.
“This agreement ensures the whales will finally get the protections they need,” said Catherine Kilduff, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity.