December 3, 2009
From our friends at Center for Biological Diversity:
Under threat of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, this week the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to protect almost 2 million acres of habitat for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale. The beluga -- seriously imperiled by dangers like industrial development, global warming, and sewage spewed directly into its habitat -- was protected under the Endangered Species Act in October 2008, after petitions and litigation by the Center and allies. But even after putting off habitat protections for a year, the Fisheries Service made no move to safeguard the whale's Cook Inlet home until we threatened to sue.
The Cook Inlet beluga is now down to only about 300 individuals, and no wonder -- its habitat is the most populated and fastest-growing watershed in Alaska. Federally protected "critical habitat" will be a huge help to the whale. But the Fisheries Service is already getting pressure from oil-friendly politicians to curtail the designation. If anything, the Fisheries Service should have designated more habitat, not less, as habitat protections are currently only proposed for the upper part of Cook Inlet. The beluga needs protection in the entire Inlet, and soon, if it's to survive and recover.
Take action here to ensure that the belugas get all the habitat protections they need!