|Emergency Rules Protect Sperm Whales in California Fishery|
Endangered sperm whales are finally catching a break in California’s deadly driftnet fishery. On Wednesday the National Marine Fisheries Service imposed emergency protections in the state’s swordfish-thresher shark fishery: The fishery will be shut down if a single sperm whale is caught dead or injured.The rules — requiring independent observers on boats in whale areas — were prompted by legal action from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies following a sperm whale death and a serious entanglement injury in 2010. The emergency protections come 20 days after the start of this year’s season; fisheries regulators say they’ll consider more permanent rules later this year.
“These mile-long driftnets are a deadly trap for endangered sperm whales and other marine mammals, so we’re glad they’re getting these emergency protections,” said the Center’s Catherine Kilduff. “But this problem needs a long-term fix. Permanent rules, if not a complete ban on these destructive nets, are long overdue.”
Learn more in our press release.
|Enviro Groups to Hillary Clinton: Join Us in the Keystone XL Fight On Wednesday 30 environmental groups, representing millions of Americans, called on Hillary Clinton to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline. The effort was led by the Center and included groups like 350.org, CREDO Mobile and Friends of the Earth.Secretary Clinton has long been an environmental advocate, but she has yet to take a public position on Keystone XL. The controversial pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Canada to Texas, where it would be refined and much of it shipped overseas. If the pipeline’s built, climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has said, it will be “game over” for avoiding the worst effects of climate change.|
“If we’re going to have a livable planet for future generations — one that’s not fraught with floods, droughts, deadly heat waves and other catastrophic effects — it’s vital that we reject the polluting fossil fuels of the past and move to cleaner, safer energy sources,” the letter to Clinton said. “Secretary Clinton, will you stand with us against Keystone XL?”
Read more in The Wall Street Journal.
|Oceans Acidifying 50 Times Faster Than Historical Rate|
Among other life-or-death subjects, the groundbreaking new National Climate Assessment includes an analysis of our acidifying oceans — an inclusion the Center pushed for back in 2011. Over the past 250 years, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by 30 percent as the seas absorb the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere — and the current observed rate of change is about 50 times faster than the known historical rate.
By the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be as much as 150 percent more acidic, resulting in levels “that the oceans have not experienced for more than 20 million years and effectively transforming marine life as we know it.” In fact, the study concedes, such huge changes in ocean acidity probably haven’t been experienced on the planet for the past 100 million years; it’s unclear whether or how ocean life could adapt to such rapid acidification.
Acidification puts shelled marine species — including pteropods, oysters, clams, sea urchins, corals and calcareous plankton — at risk, and that means the entire ocean food web may also be at risk. Right now more than 1 billion people depend on the ocean for their food.
Read more, and check out some good graphics, in the Assessment itself.