THE PINK DOLPHIN: Court Ruling On Bearded Seals Is A Major Win For Climate-Threatened Species

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Court Ruling On Bearded Seals Is A Major Win For Climate-Threatened Species

Instead of waiting for habitats to be destroyed, we can give these animals a fighting chance at survival.

 

Handout . / Reuters
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. 

 

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.

Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that petitioned to list the seals in 2008, called Monday’s ruling a “huge victory.”

“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.

Barcroft via Getty Images
Polar bear sow and cub newly emerged from their den in springtime on March 24, 2009 along the Arctic Coast of Alaska.

 

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.

Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, told The Sacramento Bee he expects the opinion on bearded seals will have “profound” implications for the entire nation.

“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

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Editorial CommitteeDavid DunhamArno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

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.

~ by SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras on 26 October, 2016.

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