Orca Whales May Lose Endangered Species Status – NOAA Accepted Petition to De-list This Struggling Population

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Update 12/7/12: Orca Network’s Howard Garrett fully addresses this subject in the following post that follows this one, Southern Resident Orcas are Targeted by Those Who Want to Demolish the Endangered Species Act Entirely – Orca Network Weighs in on This Issue
Update 11/30/12:  Please sign the Change.org petition against de-listing the orcas here: NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service: Deny the petition to remove orcas from the endangered Species List.

Southern Resident orca population may lose their endangered species status. (Center for Whale Research).

From NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration):
“Killer Whale Petition: Today we announced that we accepted a petition to delist Southern Resident killer whales, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. We’ll begin a review to determine the population’s ESA status, and are soliciting scientific and commercial information about these whales to ensure that the status review is comprehensive. The petition presents new information from scientific journal articles about killer whale genetics, addressing issues such as how closely related this small population is to other populations, and meets NOAA Fisheries’ standard for accepting a petition to review. Acceptance of this petition doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome.
We’ll consider and address all substantive information on it received by Jan. 28, 2013.

See our website at http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Whales-Dolphins-Porpoise/Killer-Whales/ESA-Status/delist.cfm for details.”

The petition was filed on behalf of the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (CESAR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific rigor in environmental regulations.
Also represented are two farms in California’s San Joaquin Valley, whose access to water for agriculture is threatened by the unjustified ESA listing of the Orca. This is because water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are threatened as a result of an ESA biological opinion that was issued for the Orca along with several species of fish, including salmon and steelhead, that are part of the Orca’s food supply and that are found in the Delta.
The bottom line is that developers, farmers, and commercial fisheries feel that their rights should supersede the welfare of a fragile population of orcas – and it is unfathomable that NOAA is actually taking the petition seriously.

I am on vacation and can’t give this topic the depth of coverage that it deserves, so will let you know when my colleagues have tackled the subject.  In the meanwhile, please take the time to read the petition!

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