Monday, July 28, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 25 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Hawaii fishing group wants whales off endangered species list

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:05 a.m. HST, May 03, 2013

A group of Hawaii fishermen is asking the federal government to remove northern Pacific humpback whales from the endangered species list, saying the population has steadily grown since the international community banned commercial whaling nearly 50 years ago.

Hawaii Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition Inc., a coalition of fishing clubs and groups from across the islands, filed a petition to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month.

There are more than 21,000 humpback whales in the North Pacific today, compared with about 1,400 in the mid-1960s.

More than half spend the winter breeding and calving in Hawaii’s warm waters. The animals, known for acrobatic leaps and complex singing patterns, have become a major draw for tourists and support a thriving whale-watching industry in Hawaii. Other North Pacific humpbacks winter off Mexico, Central America, Japan and the Philippines.

In the summer, they migrate to feed on krill and fish in waters off Alaska, Canada and Russia.

The commercial whaling ban and other regulations would continue to protect the whales even if they were to lose their endangered status, the petition said. Though some whales die each year after being hit by ships and getting accidentally caught in fishing gear, the petition argues these accidents haven’t interfered with the overall population’s growth.

The fishermen are asking NOAA to first declare the North Pacific whales a distinct population. If the agency does so, the coalition wants NOAA to then remove this population from the endangered list. Humpbacks are found around the world — globally they number about 60,000 — but the petition is seeking delisting for whales only in the North Pacific.

Philip Fernandez, the coalition’s president, said the fishermen stepped forward on the issue after watching other groups petition to add many more species to the endangered list. The government should consider humpback whales for removal to maintain a balance, Fernandez said.

“You cannot add species after species after species without evaluating whether there are species that should come off,” the West Hawaii fisherman told The Associated Press by telephone from Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Fishermen are concerned the integrity of the Endangered Species Act is being undermined when species are added to the list but not removed, Fernandez said.

A delisting wouldn’t make it easier for fishermen to fish because the law’s protections for the whales don’t interfere with fishing activities, he said.

Angela Somma, NOAA Fisheries endangered species division chief, said the petition is the first seeking to delist humpback whales since the animals were classified as endangered in 1970.

The law gives the agency until mid-July to determine whether the petition merits consideration. If NOAA finds the petition has merit, the agency must come to a conclusion by mid-April.

NOAA last removed a species from the endangered list in 2008, when it determined the Caribbean monk seal had gone extinct. The last time a species’ recovery prompted delisting was in 1994, when the agency removed the eastern North Pacific population of gray whales from the list.

NOAA also is considering delisting both the Hawaii population of green sea turtles and a population of Stellar sea lions that lives off the coast of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

Miyoko Sakashita, a San Francisco-based attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements still threaten humpbacks. Climate change and growing levels of carbon dioxide the ocean — which is causing the oceans to become more acidic — could harm the plankton that humpback whales depend on for food, she said.

“It could be an important success story for humpback whales, but NOAA should really proceed with caution because of the overarching threats to make sure the gains aren’t unraveled,” Sakashita said.

NOAA Fisheries independently launched a review of humpback whales in 2009 in response to data showing steady population growth. Somma said the agency is still working on this review.

North Pacific Humpback Whale Petition

 Print   Email   Comment | View 25 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
Rapanui00 wrote:
Are you kidding me - ? Obviously this Fisherman's group is ill informed. Humans are a plague as Sir David Attenborough put forth on the BBC lately. The oceans in Hawaii are mainly dead zones due to over fishing and pollution. The whales need to be protected plain and simple from humans and their continued stupidity!
on May 3,2013 | 09:01AM
hawaiifisherman wrote:
I like humans (mostly because I am one).
on May 3,2013 | 09:36AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
Theirs nothing wrong with humans other then their wantless path of destruction when it comes to the enviroment etc. If you like to fish you have to realize that the islands are devoid of fish due to the reckless policies and pollution that are allowed to happen. The only way you will save the Oceans around the islands is a complete moatorium for five years and then a monitored sustainable fishery. Problem is today its all about greed and big bucks.
on May 3,2013 | 10:12AM
hawaiifisherman wrote:
I do like to fish. I also know (because I am in the ocean almost every day) that the islands are not "devoid of fish". And it's certainly not about "greed" or "big bucks". People in Hawaii fish because they love the ocean, and fishing connects them to the land. Even commercial fishermen in Hawaii don't make a lot of money, especially compared with huge industries like tourism that really are running the show.
on May 3,2013 | 10:52AM
lee1957 wrote:
Some of my best friends are human.
on May 3,2013 | 11:42AM
64hoo wrote:
read the article the whales will still be protected by laws it does not change anything it just says they want to take it off the endangered species list. its still illegal to kill or harass whales the laws are still the same.
on May 3,2013 | 09:50AM
pakeheat wrote:
So why then the Fisherman's group want to put whales off the endangered species list if it's not going to change a thing?
on May 3,2013 | 09:59AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
exactly - its another ploy by Kitty and Company (WESTPAC) who was a Danny boy pawn ... Its criminal all these groups masquerading under false pretenses
on May 3,2013 | 10:08AM
hawaiifisherman wrote:
It's the principle of the thing. If there is no way for species to be taken off the list once their populations come back, the endangered species act is useless.
on May 3,2013 | 10:08AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
Sorry they are endangered and always will due to kills by commercial shipping, pollution, and Japan's reckless killing of whales for "scientific purposes" Oh I am sorry I forgot the Japaneses are the sacred cow in the room and can not be touched.
on May 3,2013 | 10:41AM
hawaiifisherman wrote:
Eh, read the article. The whale population has been increasing since the 1970s, and has reached the point where they are no longer in danger of extinction. Deaths by shipping strikes are negligible and aren't hurting the population, and the whaling moratorium isn't going to end just because the USA takes the humpback off our endangered list. The grey whale has been de-listed for nearly 10 years, and it's still abundant. FYI, the Japanese do not hunt humpbacks, they hunt Minke whales (which also are not endangered), and they do not conduct whaling in the North Pacific. In the US, the humpback (and all other whales) are still protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so there is no possibility that they will be hunted.
on May 3,2013 | 10:58AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
not quite correct - you can find humpack sushi in Tokyo - I have seen it myself
on May 3,2013 | 11:30AM
peanutgallery wrote:
You're a Kool-Aid drinker. Find a 12-step.
on May 3,2013 | 11:14AM
lee1957 wrote:
Which has nothing to do with the ESA.
on May 3,2013 | 11:44AM
knowsy12 wrote:
Something is rotting in Denmark. And the North Pacific as well.
on May 3,2013 | 10:25AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Your myopic view and self righteous liberalism out you for one that's totally ill-informed. The whales have made an incredible comeback. Their numbers are staggering. Like the sea turtles that now so overpopulate our near shore. Humans always get in the way of nature. They always have, and always will. The environmentalists feel good about their efforts, but the reality is that their efforts cause more harm than good. The story gets repeated over, and over, and over again. From whales to wolves environmentals are alwys on the wrong side, but they feel good about it.
on May 3,2013 | 11:14AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
yea right - talk to me in ten years when you see what happens in your beloved Honolulu when their are no fish, a shortage of water, reefs totally dead and depleted, overcrowding and a continued deterioration of the infastructure.
on May 3,2013 | 11:32AM
peanutgallery wrote:
You're a Kool-Aid drinker.
on May 4,2013 | 03:30AM
kainalu wrote:
I'd prefer that fishing and hunting for humans be legalized. Good eating!
on May 3,2013 | 09:37AM
retire wrote:
I hear they taste like chicken.
on May 3,2013 | 11:12AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
u mean whales? Never had it, never will, never want to. Besides I got less than a half century remaining in my worn out batteries lol.
on May 3,2013 | 11:28AM
Kaleo744 wrote:
just get to the point.. its.called whale meat.. and theres a big market there....thats the real reason....
on May 3,2013 | 11:49AM
Rapanui00 wrote:
Yes in Japan and Scandanavia -
on May 3,2013 | 12:27PM
honupono wrote:
so let me get this straight...they want to remove it off the list but protect it first with some protected status but then if it's off the list, then in the area they are requesting it for-will allow fishing for it to happen? But I suppose when it gets less in population again then we have to ask NOAA to put it on the endangered list again? That's ALL about greed. There is no guarantee that when it gets off the list it will be ever put back on. And I for one would never trust a group that wants to remove an endangered species off the list. These creatures cannot protect themselves from humans who cannot even have self control in the first place.
on May 3,2013 | 12:31PM
Hawaiians wrote:
Oh my what have we here...are they Japanese Moby Dick fisherman ?
on May 3,2013 | 05:31PM
Breaking News