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The National Marine Fisheries Service has released new data showing that the California-based drift gillnet fishery targeting swordfish killed an estimated 53 marine mammals from May 2013 through January 2014. Fishery observers monitored 34 percent of the drift gillnet sets made last year; they documented that the fishery killed an estimated three California gray whales, six short-finned pilot whales, nine northern right whale dolphins, nine California sea lions and 26 short-beaked common dolphins.
“Every year that drift gillnets are used off the California coast to catch swordfish, the result is that iconic whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and thousands of fish are ensnared and killed as bycatch,” said Geoff Shester, California campaign director for Oceana
. “Ultimately this gear type must be fully prohibited off the West Coast so we can have a sustainable swordfish fishery.”
In a letter sent to the regional Pacific Fishery Management Council — the 14-member voting body tasked with advising the Fisheries Service on federal fishery management — Oceana requested that this gear type used to catch swordfish be prohibited in all waters off the U.S. West Coast, and during any transition period that “hard caps” be established on the total number of whales, dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, sharks and other fish that can be killed as bycatch. If such hard caps were reached or exceeded in any fishing season, the fishery would be shut down for the remainder of the season. The fishery is currently operating without a valid permit as required by law, meaning the federal government is knowingly allowing it to operate illegally.
Read More | See Also: Lawsuit Launched to Reinstate Protections for Endangered Sperm Whales
Previous Coverage: Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery Restricted to Protect Loggerhead Sea Turtles
|| Whales and Sea Turtles Win One: No Driftnet Expansion in California
On August 27, over 200 Tribal Members and Leaders, river advocates and politicians attended a day of celebration on the Trinity River below Lewiston Dam. It was a day that the Bureau of Reclamation designated as a “Multicultural Day,“ so the Hoopa Valley Tribe organized an event to demonstrate the impacts of water diversion on their culture and the river communities.
Environmental groups filed a legal petition on August 26 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies, which have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. During the same period it is estimated that these once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.
On August 21, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) announced a settlement on behalf of plaintiffs Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary in the animal groups’ lawsuit against egg industry defendants Andy Cheung and Lien Diep. The defendants abandoned 50,000 hens without food at a facility near Turlock, which led to the largest farmed animal rescue in California history.
Restore the Delta (RTD) and many other groups held a large rally at the State Capitol on July 29, featuring the delivery of a “Death of the Delta" coffin containing thousands of public comments opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s peripheral tunnels.
Hundreds of people, including fishermen, Tribal leaders, environmentalists, Delta farmers and environmental justice advocates, rallied to protest Jerry Brown’s tunnel plan and to call for a new Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS). The protest was held on the final day of the public comment period for the BDCP. The opponents charged that the EIR/EIS process has been “fatally flawed” due to its lack of public outreach to non-English speakers, failure to present a funding plan, exclusion of any non-tunnels alternative, and scientists’ identification of numerous “red flags.”
The rally opened with a blessing by Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, who said, “We ask that the Great Creator look down on our hearts and open our minds so we can see the good things and that the good people will wake up to join this effort to protect the waters of not only California but the world. All of the waters are connected." Chief Sisk emphasized that rather than growing export crops on drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, California is one of four salmon states in the U.S. and should rebuild the salmon population for economic, cultural and spiritual reasons. Salmon now contribute many billions to the New Zealand economy – and California should embrace its role as a salmon state.
Read More with Photos | See Also: Delta tunnel opponents ask Brown to release water bond language
| Greenwashing Destruction: Fake marine “protection” and Brown’s tunnels
| Bay Delta Conservation Plan Officials Suppress Freedom of Speech
| PPIC Poll: 51 percent of likely voters would back $11.1 billion water bond
Previous Coverage: Hundreds Oppose Governor Brown’s Massive Water Export Tunnels at State Capitol Rally
|| New California Water Grab for Fracking and Agribusiness
Citing concerns about water use and contamination, a Monterey County Superior Court judge has ruled that San Benito County unlawfully approved a dangerous new oil-development project near Pinnacles National Park that could result in hundreds of wells being drilled in important agricultural and wildlife habitat in the Salinas Valley watershed. As the judge’s ruling notes, “There are numerous opportunities for toxic spills to occur that the County has apparently not contemplated.”
Rallies have been held around the world in opposition to Israel's recent air strikes on Gaza and the collective punishment carried out against the Palestinian people living there and in the West Bank. In Northern California, demonstrations have been held in Fresno, Oakland, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Salinas, and Santa Cruz. According to the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), as of August 17, approximately 1939 Palestinians, including whole families, have been killed since July 8. A total of 9886 Palestinians, including 2878 children, 1854 women, and 374 elderly, have been injured. 47 Israeli soldiers, most of whom were invading Gaza at the time of their death, have been killed by Palestinian resistance, and two Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinian shells.
In response to pressure from conservation groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced an area closure for the swordfish drift gillnet fishery in the Pacific Ocean off California from July 25 through August 31 to prevent entanglements and drownings of endangered loggerhead sea turtles. This year’s El Niño conditions, warmer than normal waters, attract the endangered loggerhead sea turtles to the nutrient-rich waters where the deadly fishery operates.
This is the first time the conservation area has been closed since it went into effect over a decade ago. Today’s action came after the Center for Biological Diversity
, and Turtle Island Restoration Network
called upon NMFS earlier this month in a letter urging them to implement this important closure. “We are glad to see that Pacific loggerhead turtles are now protected in California’s coastal waters,” said Todd Steiner, a biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “But enough is enough. It’s time for California to follow the lead of Washington and Oregon, and close this deadly fishery to protect not only sea turtles, but also whales, dolphins and sharks regularly killed by this fishery.”
NMFS is required by law to close the more than 25,000-square-mile Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area to protect the sea turtles during June, July and August when an El Niño event is occurring or forecasted. The seasonal closure protects loggerhead sea turtles that follow warmer waters off California in search of their preferred prey, pelagic red crabs. Although NMFS implemented the conservation area and drift gillnet prohibition almost two months late, conservation groups commend the agency for taking the proper steps to ensure protection of endangered loggerhead sea turtles as the fishery picks up in mid-August. The swordfish drift gillnet fishery operates from May 1 to January 31, but over 90 percent of the fishing occurs from August 15 through January 31.
Previous Coverage: Whales and Sea Turtles Win One: No Driftnet Expansion in California
In response to the decision from Sonoma County district attorney Jill Ravitch's decision not to prosecute Erick Gelhaus, the Sheriff's Deputy that killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez, protesters assembled in Santa Rosa on July 12 and marched through the downtown streets. After the official march was declared to be over, many continued to march in an act of civil disobedience towards Highway 101, where they blocked an off-ramp and all three northbound lanes of traffic.
On June 30, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition for review filed by the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, a private business that has been operating in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The company sued the Interior Department in December of 2012 after former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided to let their 40-year lease to expire on its own terms. This decision affirms the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal's denial of the Company's preliminary injunction lawsuit. Environmental groups now hope the Department of the Interior will set in motion a timeline for the company to remove its oyster operation from Drakes Estero.
The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to log 661 million board feet of timber in the area burned by the Rim fire last summer in California’s Stanislaus National Forest. The new proposal, issued as part of a draft environmental impact statement, would sell almost four times the timber volume sold by the Forest Service in the entire state of California in 2013. It would ignore longstanding rules protecting old-growth trees and destroy habitat for roughly 60 percent of imperiled black-backed woodpeckers.
"It’s little more than an excuse to cut old trees in forests that would otherwise be protected," said Randi Spivak of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Decades of science have shown the importance of preserving burned areas for wildlife like black-backed woodpeckers and the function of these complex ecosystems. Throwing that away to make the timber industry happy is shortsighted.”
The forests in the Rim fire area continue to thrive: Hillsides are now covered with blooming flowers and plants, birds are feeding off of the dead trees, new conifers are sprouting, and deer and other wildlife thrive.
Read More |
Center for Biological Diversity |
See Also: New Report: Logging Would Impede Rim Fire's Benefits for Wildlife, Water, Forest
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Rare Black-backed Woodpeckers in California, Oregon, S. Dakota
New Study: Sierra Forest Fire Severity Is Not Increasing
In a move that stunned but was welcomed by long-time opponents, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) suspended the permit for the Caltrans Willits Bypass on Friday, June 20. The project has been highly contested, with Native American involvement and over 50 arrests last year. “This appears to be the first time ACE has ever pulled a permit on an approved project under construction,” said Ellen Drell, co-founder of the Willits Environmental Center, one of the project’s opponents.
California is experiencing a serious drought and the media is filled with recommendations about how to save water: Switch to dry landscaping; don't run water when you are shaving or brushing your teeth; install low-flow showerheads; and don't wash your car. All those ideas would help, but much less than people think.
According to a 2012 report by the Pacific Institute, only 4% of California's water is used by individuals. An astounding 93% of California's water goes to agriculture; and most of that 93% is misused or wasted. Humans drink less than one gallon of water per day. A cow drinks 23 gallons per day — and we have 5.5 million of them.
Low-flow showerheads help save much less water than people think. Most people shower once a day and use an average of 14 gallons of water. You could save more water by reducing your beef intake by one pound than by not showering for six months!
Read More |
"California's Water Footprint" report by the Pacific Institute
Residents and representatives of community organizations in Santa Cruz rallied outside of the court house on May 14 to voice their strong opposition to the Governor's May revise budget, which calls for an increase in spending for jail and prison expansion. According to Californians United for A Responsible Budget (CURB), spending on corrections in the state will rise 2.9%, and total spending on prisons will top $12 billion if the budget revision is adopted. Similar rallies were also held in San Francisco, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego.
A new report documents, for the first time, widespread pesticide use near California schools, including in Monterey County. Many of the pesticides profiled are used in large amounts and linked to impacts on children’s health and learning. A coalition, which includes Californians for Pesticide Reform and the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, has called for reforms in addressing pesticide use to protect children in Monterey County.
California is a state where many powerful corporate interests are based, ranging from corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley to the computer and technology industry in the Silicon Valley, but none are more influential in state politics than the oil industry. Stop Fooling California recently released a chart revealing that the oil industry, including the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron, BP and other oil companies, spent over $56.63 million on lobbying at the State Capitol in the five years from 2009 through 2013.
This money amounts to an average of $471,000 for each California
Senator and Assemblymember, according to the organization (http://www.stopfoolingca.org
), "an online and social media public education and awareness campaign
that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse
Californians." The money spent by Big Oil on lobbying has apparently been a very good
investment, since the industry was able to make sure that the only
fracking legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the
Governor last year was Senator Fran Pavley’s SB 4, the“green light for
fracking bill." SB 4 is an ominous piece of legislation that will
result in the expansion of hydraulic fracturing in Kern County,
coastal areas and offshore waters.
Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, placed first in "The Big Oil Dirty Dozen” with $23,987,896 spent on lobbying in Sacramento from 2009 through 2013. The organization spent $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013.
Read More |
Western States Petroleum Association spent $1,456,785 in 3 months |