A Lawsuit with Sustainable Consequences
The suspension is a consequence of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups. These groups sued U.S. regulators for not doing enough under the Endangered Species Act to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (E. glacialis), of which only about 400 remain.
A federal judge, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg, ruled in favor of the environmental groups. The ruling found that the National Marine Fisheries Service had failed to assess the extent to which the whales are threatened by entanglement in lobster fishing gear | Learn more on Commonshare |.
The Right Whales Win When Lobster Industry Loses Its Sustainability Certification
Judge Boasberg has said that within two weeks he expects to set a deadline for the National Marine Fisheries Service to issue new rules to protect the North Atlantic right whales.
Officials from Maine’s lobster industry opposed the ruling, arguing that the industry has only been associated with one right whale entanglement, back in 2002. They have also observed that of the 31 right whales found dead since 2017, 21 have been in Canadian waters.
The whales and climate Change
Scientists say that due to climate change | Learn more on Commonshare |, the whales are going farther north in pursuit of their main food source, a zooplankton called Calanus finmarchicus. This change is recent, and as a consequence fishermen in Canadian waters are not used to taking precautions to protect the whales.
While the Maine lobster industry is losing its sustainability certification | Learn more on Commonshare |, commercial fishermen will still be able to operate in the Gulf of Maine. They will not, however, be able to use the Marine Stewardship Council | Learn more on Commonshare |’s sustainability logo.