Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

For Immediate Release

Contact
Kristen Monsell, Center for Biological Diversity, (914) 806-3467, kmonsell@biologicaldiversity.org
Jake O'Neill, Conservation Law Foundation, (617) 850-1709, joneill@clf.org
Jake Bleich, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-3208, jbleich@defenders.org

Press Release

New Legal Claims Challenge Feds' Failure to Protect Right Whales From Deadly Entanglements External

WASHINGTON -

The Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife filed additional legal claims against the National Marine Fisheries Service today for failing to prevent critically endangered North Atlantic right whales from getting tangled up and killed in lobster gear. 

Entanglement in commercial fishing gear is the leading cause of death for right whales. Fewer than 360 of these whales remain.  

"For decades, the agency has failed to act or even follow the law, driving North Atlantic right whales toward extinction," said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center. "We've already waited far too long to protect North Atlantic right whales from deadly entanglements. It's time to get all vertical fishing lines out of right whale habitat and convert to on-demand ropeless fishing gear."   

The Fisheries Service issued a new rule Aug. 31 to reduce entanglement risk in the lobster fishery. Yet the agency admits U.S. fisheries will nonetheless continue to entangle more than 9% of the right whale population each year, or roughly 32 right whales a year based on the current population. The agency estimates that these entanglements will result in the death or serious (i.e., likely lethal) injury of more than three right whales each year. 

"Fishermen should be recognized for the changes they have made to protect right whales from extinction, but we have more work to do," said Erica Fuller, senior attorney at Conservation Law Foundation. "The existence of an entire species is at stake, and we must keep pressing forward. Fishery managers must take immediate action to reduce entanglements and we look forward to standing up for right whales in court to make sure they do."

The updated lawsuit adds claims alleging that the agency's new rule violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act by failing to reduce the risk that right whales will die in lobster lines to the low levels required by the statute. The lawsuit also challenges the Fisheries Service's decades-long failure to comply with the act's directive to reduce right whale mortality in commercial fishing gear to "insignificant levels." It further says the agency's assessment of how the lobster fishery affects right whales, called a biological opinion, fails to comply with the Endangered Species Act. 

"The Fisheries Service continues to do too little, too late to reverse the right whale's slide towards extinction," said Jane Davenport, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. "Even after our court victory in 2020, the agency committed the same legal error again, blatantly disregarding its obligations to protect and recover this iconic species. We have no choice but to go back to court to force the agency to do its job."

When right whales get tangled in fishing gear, they can drown immediately or die over an extended period from injuries, infections or starvation. Even nonfatal entanglements also sap whales of strength and decrease reproductive success. Chronic entanglements in heavy gear are a drain to a whale's energy — so much so that it now takes females nearly 10 years between births to have another calf.

This critically endangered whale population has been declining since 2010, suffering an estimated average of 20 deaths and serious injuries per year. The unusual mortality event declared in 2017 is now entering its fifth straight year. 

Conservation groups originally filed suit in federal court in Washington, D.C., in early 2018. In April 2020, the groups won a ruling that the Fisheries Service's prior biological opinion on the lobster fishery violated the Endangered Species Act. Per court order, the agency had until May 31, 2021, to finalize a new biological opinion. 

Today's filing amends and supplements the existing lawsuit, adding claims challenging the new biological opinion as well as the final rule's violations of the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and Administrative Procedure Act.

###

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. 

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo