The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Shaye Wolf, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 632-5301

Todd Steiner, Turtle Island Restoration Network, (415) 663-8590 x 103, cell 488-7652

Five Penguins Win U.S. Endangered Species Act Protection


Five penguin species will get U.S. Endangered
Species Act protections after a 2006 petition by the Center for Biological
Diversity and two lawsuits filed jointly with Turtle Island Restoration
Network. Today's Interior Department decision will list the Humboldt
penguin of Chile and Peru and four New Zealand penguins, the
yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested and erect-crested, as

"Protecting these penguins
under the Endangered Species Act gives them a renewed chance at
survival," said Center biologist Shaye Wolf. "Unfortunately, in
today's finding the Obama administration failed to acknowledge climate
change as a threat. This administration won't be able to help penguins
survive the climate crisis if it doesn't admit that it's a

The penguins face serious threats
from climate change, ocean acidification and commercial fishing. Today's
designation will raise awareness about the penguins' plight, increase research
and conservation funding, and provide additional oversight of activities
approved by the U.S. government that could harm penguins and their habitat,
including development projects and high seas fisheries.

Warming oceans, melting sea ice and
overfishing have depleted the penguins' food supply of krill and fish. As
sea ice melt has melted, krill has declined by up to 80 percent since the 1970s
over large areas of the Southern Ocean where penguins forage. Ocean
acidification is also inhibiting the growth of organisms at the base of the
food web. What's more, these penguins also drown in commercial fishing
gear, die in oil spills and are killed by introduced predators at their
breeding colonies.

"Finally the government is
throwing penguins a lifeline to recovery by protecting them under the
Endangered Species Act," said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle
Island Restoration Network. "Industrial fisheries and ocean warming are
starving the penguins. Longlines and other destructive fishing gear entangle
and drown them. Now they will have a fighting chance to survive."

The Center filed a petition to list
12 penguin species under the Act in 2006. In December 2008, the Interior
Department proposed listing seven penguins, including the five given official
protection today. By court order, final decisions for the African and southern
rockhopper penguins are due in September 2010 and January 2011. The Center and
TIRN plan to file suit against Interior for denying listing to emperor and
northern rockhopper penguins despite scientific evidence that they are
jeopardized by climate change and commercial fisheries.

For more information on penguins,

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.

(520) 623-5252