Bearded seals, one of four arctic seal species that inhabit Alaskan waters, rely on sea ice for feeding, resting and pupping, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In a 2012 release announcing the listing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it conducted a “comprehensive review” of climate models developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It concluded that “sea ice and snow cover are likely to further decrease in the foreseeable future resulting in population declines that threaten the survival” of Alaska’s ringed and bearded seal populations.
“This decision will give bearded seals a fighting chance while we work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions melting their sea-ice habitat and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground,” Monsell said in a statement.
The Center noted in its release that the species’ winter sea-ice habitat is projected to decline at least 40 percent by 2050. Additionally, it said proposed offshore drilling would threaten the seal population.
Alaska Oil and Gas Association president Kara Moriarty was among those who condemned Monday’s ruling.
“Their rationale for listing the bearded seal was based on conjecture, rather than science,” she told Alaska Dispatch News. “We, along with the other plaintiffs are currently considering our options moving forward.”
Brad Meyen, senior assistant attorney general for Alaska, told the L.A. Times the state may appeal the ruling.
“If this opinion stands, the National Marine Fisheries Service would list a species that is abundant and in good health based on the claim that climate change will impact habitat over the next 100 years and may cause harm,” he told the publication.
Numerous species are already feeling the impacts of climate change. In 2008, polar bears became the first animal listed under the Endangered Species Act because of forecasted impacts of climate change. In March, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S Fish And Wildlife Service’s designation of an 187,000-square-mile polar bear habitat in Alaska’s marine waters and its northern coast.
“This court ruling recognizes that climate change is a real threat, that climate science and models are scientifically sound, and that the Endangered Species Act requires we use information on future risks to protect species today, rather than waiting for the downward spiral of extinction to begin,” he told the publication.
Source: The Huffington Post
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Pink Dolphin” were taken by Mr. Schafer.