Suit Filed to Save Penguins at Risk From Global Warming and Fisheries

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Catherine Kilduff, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 644-8580
Todd Steiner/Teri Shore, Turtle Island Restoration Network, (415) 663- 8590 x 103/104

Suit Filed to Save Penguins at Risk From Global Warming and Fisheries

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity and
Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) today sued the Obama administration
for illegally delaying protection of penguins under the Endangered Species Act.
The Interior Department failed to meet its December 19, 2009 deadline to list
seven penguin species at risk of extinction due to climate change and
commercial fisheries. These penguins will not receive desperately needed
Endangered Species Act protections until Interior finalizes the listings.

“While sea ice melts and oceans warm, the Obama
administration is stuck like a deer in the headlights. Instead of saving
penguins from the leviathan of global warming while it still can,” said
Catherine Kilduff, a Center attorney, “our government is dragging its
feet.”

“Penguins should be marching toward recovery, not
extinction. These amazing species face a double whammy from the threats brought
by climate change and industrial fisheries that deplete the penguins’
food supply and entangle and drown the penguins in longlines and other
destructive fishing gear. They deserve protection under the Endangered Species
Act,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of TIRN.

In 2006 the Center filed a petition to list 12 penguin
species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In December 2008, the Interior
Department proposed listing seven of those species as threatened or endangered
– African, Humboldt, yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested, and
erect-crested penguins as well as a few populations of the southern rockhopper
– while denying listing to emperor and northern rockhopper penguins
despite scientific evidence that they also are threatened by climate change.

Today’s lawsuit challenges the Interior
Department’s illegal delay in finalizing the listing of the seven
proposed penguin species; the Center and TIRN also intend to file suit against
Interior for denying protections to emperor and rockhopper penguins. Warming
oceans, melting sea ice, and fishery harvests have wreaked havoc on
penguins’ food supply: krill, an essential nutrient for penguins, whales,
and seals, has declined by up to 80 percent since the 1970s over large areas of
the Southern Ocean. Reduced food supply has diminished populations of species
ranging from southern rockhoppers and Humboldt penguins of South American
islands to the African penguin in southern Africa.

Endangered Species Act listing would protect penguins from
multiple threats, raise awareness of their plight, and increase research
funding. Federal approval of fishing permits for U.S.-flagged vessels on the
high seas, for example, would require analysis and minimization of impacts on
penguins. The Act also has a key role in managing greenhouse gas pollution by
compelling federal agencies to look at the impact of the emissions generated by
their activities on listed species and reduce those impacts.

For more information on penguins, please see: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/penguins/index.html.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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