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Tue Apr 16, 2019, 02:37 PM

Endangered marine species win one over Trump Administration

The Trump administration has abandoned its appeal of a federal court ruling that it unlawfully tried to block gillnet fishing regulations designed to protect such marine species as whales, dolphins and sea turtles.

It is Attorney General Bob Ferguson's 19th win in lawsuits brought or joined by the state of Washington against the administration.

"These rules are designed to protect threatened and endangered species including humpback whales: I'm not going to allow the Trump administration to unlawfully roll back these protections," Ferguson said in a statement.

Neither are two powerful senators, both deceased.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, in 2016, decided that the "bycatch" of whales, dolphins and turtles caught in gillnets was too high. It promulgated new rules. But the National Marine Fisheries Service, under Trump, reversed the rules and refused to publish them.

The environmental group sued, with the state of Washington joining the suit.

According to the state's amicus brief, from 2001 to 2015, the bycatch of drift gillnet fishing in California waters included "approximately six humpback whales, nine sperm whales, more than 12 leatherback turtles, 20 loggerhead sea turtles, 14 pilot whales, and more than six bottlenose dolphins."

The plaintiffs charged that the Fisheries Service had violated the Administrative Procedures Act, but also the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which governs fisheries management in federal waters. It was crafted by the late Sens. Warren Magnuson, D-Wash., and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.


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