Thursday, May 10, 2012

Step By Step: Center for Biological Diversity presses forth

Well, let's see what the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has been up to lately.  This group, either working on its own or in consort with other like-minded groups, often takes a more combative or proactive approach to environmental issues by using the courts to prod government agencies to address some of the many conservation challenges we face.

Good News:

Following the settling of a lawsuit between CBD and it's fellow conservation groups versus the National Marine Fisheries Service, the government agency proposed a new rule for shallow water commercial fishermen, who harvest shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico, requiring them to use Turtle Excluder Devices, or TEDs, in their nets.  Essentially escape hatches for the turtles, TEDs have already been mandated for deeper water but this new rule is a first for shallow water.  The one drawback is that Congress is considering budget cuts that may stymie implementation and enforcement of the ruling.

The dwarf seahorse - at one inch, the smallest seahorse in the United States - is one step closer to mandated protection.  CBD had petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for greater protection under the Endangered Species Act and the NMFS has announced that the seahorse may indeed be in need of federal protection.  Living in the shallow seagrass beds in the Gulf of Mexico, the dwarf seahorses numbers have been declining, apparently due to harvesting from the aquarium trade and health damage to both the seahorse and its seagrass habitat from BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  

Snakes may not be your cup of tea, but their numbers have not been doing well. Yet only 58 of the approximately 1,400 species receive any federal protection.  The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake has been particularly hard hit as it has seen its natural habitat reduced to a small percentage of what it was several decades ago.  Following a petition drive by the CBD, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a full review to consider whether the rattlesnake requires protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

There are dozens of other new challenges that CBD is getting involved in, from the Keystone Pipeline to Arctic oil drilling to saving woodpecker populations, and much more.  The Center for Biological Diversity's weapon of choice still is the pressure exerted by legal action.  It may be frustrating at times as their lawyers weave their way with the regulatory morass, but the result often can be concrete results.

Source & Photos: Center for Biological Diversity

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