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Fisheries service sued over false killer whale deaths

Earthjustice sued the National Marine Fisheries Service in federal court in Honolulu today, saying the agency failed to finalize and implement a plan to protect false killer whales from Hawaii’s longline fishing industry.

The non-profit, public interest environmental law firm said it filed suit to end “the continuing slaughter of false killer whales in the waters of Hawaii.”

It said the fisheries service’s own studies show that longline fishing is killing Hawaii’s false killer whales — a species of large dolphins — at three times the rate than the animals’ population can sustain, yet the agency is six months past its statutory deadline to finalize a plan to reduce the killing, called a take reduction plan.

“These magnificent false killer whales don’t deserve a cruel death at the end of a longline hook, especially since common-sense solutions already exist to prevent serious injuries and drowning,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network.  “The ecological cost of longlining is mounting.  In addition to imperiled false killer whales, the fishery kills critically endangered sea turtles, albatrosses and other seabirds.” 

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