NMFS must reconsider whether petitions requesting federal protection for porbeagle sharks have enough data to justify development of a full-blown scientific review.
In other words, the service will have to prepare a new 90-day finding in response to the ESA petitions, filed by the Humane Society and Wild Earth Guardians. WEG announced the Friday decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein this morning.
Rothstein said that "[i]n considering plaintiffs’ petitions NMFS appears to have required 'conclusive evidence' regarding threats to the porbeagle population." And, commenting on an assessment of the sharks by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas and The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, the judge said:
The ICES/ICCAT assessment presents substantial scientific information indicating that the petitioned action, that is, the listing of the porbeagle shark as endangered or threatened, may be warranted. As previously discussed by the court, the assessment provides evidence that the porbeagle population (or distinct population segments thereof) may be declining from an already-critically low baseline. The assessment also indicates that additional measures are necessary to rebuild the porbeagle population. This evidence is a far cry from the “statements in petitions that constitute unscientific data or conclusions, information [the agency] knows to be obsolete, or unsupported conclusions of petitioners” that have been rejected by other courts as meeting the 90-day finding standard. (emphasis added by ESWR)
Press release announcing lawsuit (8/4/11)
Lynx lawsuit seeks more area for critical habitat
From the press release, issued today by WildEarth Guardians and Western Environmental Law Center:
"The lawsuit challenges the Service’s decision to exclude all lynx habitat in the Southern Rockies from the species’ critical habitat designation. The challenge also seeks to reverse the Service’s refusal to protect important occupied lynx habitat in Washington’s Kettle Range and Wedge areas, and parts of Idaho, Montana and Oregon. Lynx currently live in small populations throughout the Rockies in intact mature forests from Idaho and Montana to Colorado and New Mexico, but the Service ignored the best available science by excluding areas that support the snow-loving cats and the prey they depend on from protection."