Mahalo to Snorkel Bob!

Posted by Miwa at Jan 18, 2010 07:05 PM |

Together with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, we  filed suit in December in Federal District Court against the National Marine Fisheries Service, to challenge a new rule allowing expansion of the Hawaii longline swordfish fishery—with a dramatic increase in allowable take of threatened and endangered sea turtles. The plaintiffs are represented by the amazing attorneys over at Earthjustice.

A week later, the Snorkel Bob Foundation of Hawaii pledged $10,000 to sponsor that litigation.

Robert Wintner, Executive Director of the Snorkel Bob Foundation, said, “The opening line of our mission statement stipulates that we will defend against incidental kill of marine species, so this litigation is compulsory for us. Earthjustice is not a conservation outfit soliciting grant money and selling vague concepts. It’s a results-oriented law firm that we’re proud to support. Beyond that, the plaintiffs in this case—KAHEA, Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Center for Biodiversity are also proven achievers in the field. We know these groups and stand firmly beside them.”

Wintner added that this case will highlight outdated ocean management policy that must change to allow for ocean recovery. “The oceans can no longer provide limitless protein for growing human populations. It’s over. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is now part of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Both are in the Department of Commerce. That means ocean management is based on maximum dollar extraction and not on recovery. These agencies should be part of the Department of the Interior, where conservation and recovery are primary management factors.

“Look at the line of communication here: the president of the Hawaii Longline Association (HLA) is Shaun Martin, who is vested in the swordfish longline fishery. HLA drafted a recommendation that the swordfish fishery be expanded with a dramatic increase on incidental take of endangered turtles. Mr. Martin then delivered that recommendation to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WESPAC), where he took off his HLA president hat and put on his WESPAC president hat. WESPAC then agreed that the swordfish fishery be expanded. WESPAC uses the word “conservation” more than most agencies in its communications, but its members and officers are significantly vested in commercial extraction. The WESPAC recommendation then went to NMFS, the agency authorized to process such recommendations. NMFS has a history of going along with WESPAC recommendations. This effort to blatantly override the evidence and global consensus began some time ago, with the wheels of bureaucracy grinding slowly. The Commerce Department employs thirty thousand people, and like a giant ocean liner, it does not change course quickly. Now we have a new administration agenda reflecting long-term management policies and ocean recovery. Now we go to the judicial arena, with Earthjustice representing exactly what it’s named for. I call this money well spent.”

Mahalo to “Uncle Bob” and all the amazing people over at Snorkel Bob and Snokel Bob Foundation!

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